The Relationship Between Medically Self-Sabotaging Behaviors and Borderline Personality Disorder Among Psychiatric Inpatients

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Objective: In this study, we hypothesized and explored a relationship between medically self-sabotaging behaviors and borderline personality disorder.

Method: Using a cross-sectional self-report survey methodology, we examined 120 psychiatric inpatients, who were not psychotic, demented, medically ill, or cognitively impaired, being treated in an urban community hospital located in a midsized, midwestern city (sample of convenience) for medically self-sabotaging behaviors (author-developed survey) and borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder was assessed with the following 3 measures: the borderline personality scale of the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-4 (PDQ-4), the Self-Harm Inventory (SHI), and the McLean Screening Inventory for Borderline Personality Disorder (MSI-BPD). Data were collected from May 2006 to November 2007.

Results: For the 76 respondents (63.3%) who reported having engaged in at least 1 medically self-sabotaging behavior, the mean number of different medically self-sabotaging behaviors was 4.11 (SD=3.93). With regard to the most commonly endorsed behaviors, approximately one quarter of participants acknowledged damaging self on purpose and seeking medical treatment; not going for medical treatment, despite needing it, to purposefully hurt self; not taking a prescribed medication to hurt self; and gravitating toward a dangerous situation hoping to be physically hurt. As hypothesized, greater numbers of self-reported medically self-sabotaging behaviors were related to higher scores on the PDQ-4 (r=0.28, p

Conclusions: Medically self-sabotaging behaviors are commonly encountered in psychiatric inpatients with borderline personality disorder.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2008;10(6):448-452