Outpatient Psychotherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder
Archives of General Psychiatry
Context: Borderline personality disorder is a severe and chronic psychiatric condition, prevalent throughout health care settings. Only limited effects of current treatments have been documented. Objective: To compare the effectiveness of schemafocused therapy (SFT) and psychodynamically based transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) in patients with borderline personality disorder. Design: A multicenter, randomized, 2-group design. Setting: Four general community mental health centers.
... ants: Eighty-eight patients with a Borderline Personality Disorder Severity Index, fourth version, score greater than a predetermined cutoff score. Intervention: Three years of either SFT or TFP with sessions twice a week. Main Outcome Measures: Borderline Personality Disorder Severity Index, fourth version, score; quality of life; general psychopathologic dysfunction; and measures of SFT/TFP personality concepts. Patient assessments were made before randomization and then every 3 months for 3 years. Results: Data on 44 SFT patients and 42 TFP patients were available. The sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of the groups were similar at baseline. Survival analyses revealed a higher dropout risk for TFP patients than for SFT patients (P=.01). Using an intentionto-treat approach, statistically and clinically significant improvements were found for both treatments on all measures after 1-, 2-, and 3-year treatment periods. After 3 years of treatment, survival analyses demonstrated that significantly more SFT patients recovered (relative risk=2.18; P =.04) or showed reliable clinical improvement (relative risk=2.33; P=.009) on the Borderline Personality Disorder Severity Index, fourth version. Robust analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that they also improved more in general psychopathologic dysfunction and measures of SFT/TFP personality concepts (PϽ.001). Finally, SFT patients showed greater increases in quality of life than TFP patients (robust ANCOVAs, P=.03 and PϽ.001). Conclusions: Three years of SFT or TFP proved to be effective in reducing borderline personality disorderspecific and general psychopathologic dysfunction and measures of SFT/TFP concepts and in improving quality of life; SFT is more effective than TFP for all measures.