A Clinical Trial of a Psychoeducation Group Intervention for Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder

Maria Elena Ridolfi, MDa,*; Roberta Rossi, MSb; Giorgia Occhialini, MDa; and John G. Gunderson, MDc,d,†  

Published: December 31, 2019

Article Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the impact of a 6-session psychoeducational group (PEG) intervention for borderline personality disorder (BPD) in an underserved community-based outpatient setting.

Methods: The study was conducted between July 2015 and January 2017. Of 96 outpatients who met DSM-IV criteria for BPD, the first 48 received the experimental treatment, whereas the next 48 were assigned to a wait list. All received non-intensive treatment as usual. The primary outcome measure, the Zanarini Rating Scale for DSM-IV Borderline Personality Disorder (ZAN-BPD), was administered at baseline, at the end of treatment, and 2 months after the end of treatment.

Results: The PEG intervention was associated with a significant improvement on all sectors of BPD (P < .001). Improvements were greater for the PEG on all sectors except impulsivity. Benefits remained stable during 2-month follow-up. The PEG intervention had a large effect size (Cohen d = −1.16), whereas the wait list effect size was small (Cohen d = −0.18). The between-arms effect size was 0.80 after treatment and 0.90 at follow-up. With full response defined as a decrease of ≥ 50% from baseline in ZAN-BPD total score, 22 patients (46%) in the psychoeducation group and 3 (6%) in the wait list group were considered full responders.

Conclusions: This study shows that a PEG intervention can be an effective treatment for patients with BPD. The overall cost benefits of group interventions and the the applicability of a PEG intervention to underserved patients demonstrate its potential to address significant public health needs.

Volume: 81

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