Without the support from Australian Rotary Health (ARH), the Australian site for an international study investigating the effectiveness of a treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) patients would not have been possible. The study was conducted across 5 countries and 15 different treatment centres, treating 495 patients suffering from BPD.
BPD is the most common personality disorder in Australia, affecting up to 4% of the population at some point in their lives. The treatable mental illness is associated with the inability to manage emotions effectively, which may result in immense distress, destruction of relationships and self-harm tendencies.
Dr. Christopher Lee from Murdoch University was the recipient of an ARH Mental Health Grant to conduct research on BPD in 2011. The global study compared two different delivery modes of schema therapy (ST), an existing treatment for personality disorders, with its existing modes of treatment to see if there is a benefit for the new delivery modes.
“People with Borderline Personality Disorder have complex mental health and health needs and are high utilisers of the health services,” said Dr. Lee. “More efficient treatments would not only reduce their suffering but decrease the costs associated with managing this disorder.”
The existing treatment used to treat BPD is known as schema therapy. ST is an integrative psychotherapy, combining different elements of psychological theory and techniques. The study focused on how ST formats, ‘predominantly group ST’ (PGST) and ‘combined individual and group ST’ (IGST), compared to usual ST treatment.
Amongst the participants, half of them received treatment as usual, 25% of them received PGST and 25% received IGST. All ST formats were delivered across 2 years, with the aim of measuring the change in BPD severity over time.
Of the 495 patients, the 124 patients that received the IGST mode of delivery illustrated a significant reduction in BPD severity measures. Such findings suggest that IGST is the most effective and preferred ST format, demonstrating high retention and continuation of improvement in BPD severity after the completion of treatment.
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