People with borderline personality disorder may have difficulty in accessing health services

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is the most common personality disorder in Australia, affecting up to 5% of the population at some stage, and Flinders University researchers warn more needs to be done to meet this high consumer needs.

A new study in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing (Wiley) describes how people with BPD are becoming more knowledgeable about the disorder and available treatments, but may find it difficult to find evidence-based help for their symptoms.

The South Australian psychiatric researchers warn these services are constrained by stigma within health services and from health professionals, with inadequate funding for BPD treatments and general health policies leaving consumers struggling to find appropriate help.

Lived Experience Australia's 75-question survey of more than 500 patients in 2011 and 2017 found many people with BPD often experience significant distress in their personal lives as well as dealing with community mental health and emergency departments in the health system. While the general public are becoming more aware about BPD, there is still a lot of stigma, along with clinician and research biases, which complicate this situation."

Jessica Proctor, Researcher, Flinders College of Medicine and Public Health

BPD is typically characterized by instability in a person's sense of self, personal relationships, goals, and expression of emotions and feelings, as well as impulsive behavior, risk taking, and outbursts of intense anger or hostility. However a person does not need to show all of these signs to have a diagnosis of BPD.

People with BPD can also experience other disorders, such as major depression, that also required targeted, evidence-based treatment.

While it's commonly thought BPD is untreatable, the experts say BPD is in fact very responsive to effective treatments, primarily psychotherapies including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT.

Flinders University Professor Sharon Lawn says some health professionals acknowledge the shortfalls in access to DBT and other evidence-based therapy to treat the disorder.

Lack of interventions for severe borderline personality disorder leads to lots of extra pressure on emergency hospital services, not to mention the suffering while consumers waiting a possible 12-18 months for appropriate care in the public system."

Sharon Lawn, Professor, Flinders University  

Public subsidies for specialized stand-alone BPD focused services in the private sector with a psychiatrist referral would be a good starting point to improve services in Australia, she adds.

In the meantime, more mental health nurses and other health professionals can support front-line services by applying NHMRC BPD guidelines in clinical practice, the research concludes.

"It was very pleasing to see more people in the 2017 survey showing more recognition of their symptoms and willingness to reach out for help," says another senior author on the paper, national consumer advocate and chair of Lived Experience Australia, Janne McMahon OAM.

"Approaching people with BPD without stigma and with sound understanding of the evidence-based treatments can help them to recognize and manage their emotions more effectively," she says.

Journal reference:

Proctor, J.M., et al. (2020) Consumer perspective from people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) on BPD management—How are the Australian NHMRC BPD guidelines faring in practice?. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
New research pinpoints key pathways in prostate cancer's vulnerability to ferroptosis