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Journal Article


Kaess M, Fischer-Waldschmidt G, Resch F, Koenig J. Borderline Personal. Disord. Emot. Dysregul. 2017; 4: e7.


Section for Translational Psychobiology in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centre for Psychosocial Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Blumenstraße 8, Heidelberg, 69115 Germany.


(Copyright © 2017, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group - BMC)








BACKGROUND: Diagnostic standards do not acknowledge developmental specifics and differences in the clinical presentation of adolescents with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is associated with severe impairments in health related quality of life (HRQoL) and increased psychopathological distress. Previously no study addressed differences in HRQoL and psychopathology in adolescents with subthreshold and full-syndrome BPD as well as adolescents at-risk for the development but no current BPD.

METHODS: Drawing on data from a consecutive sample of N = 264 adolescents (12-17 years) presenting with risk-taking and self-harming behavior at a specialized outpatient clinic, we investigated differences in HRQoL (KIDSCREEN-52) and psychopathological distress (SCL-90-R) comparing adolescents with no BPD (less than 3 criteria fulfilled), to those with subthreshold (3-4 BPD criteria) and full-syndrome BPD (5 or more BPD criteria). Group differences were analyzed using one-way analysis of variance with Sidak corrected contrasts or Chi-Square test for categorical variables.

RESULTS: Adolescents with subthreshold and full-syndrome BPD presented one year later at our clinic and were more likely female. Adolescents with subthreshold and full-syndrome BPD showed greater Axis-I and Axis-II comorbidity compared to adolescents with no BPD, and reported greater risk-taking behaviour, self-injury and suicidality. Compared to those without BPD, adolescents with subthreshold and full-syndrome BPD reported significantly reduced HRQoL. Adolescents with sub-threshold BPD and those with full-syndrome BPD did not differ on any HRQoL dimension, with the exception of Self-Perception. Similar, groups with sub-threshold and full-syndrome BPD showed no significant differences on any dimension of self-reported psychopathological distress, with the exception of Hostility.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight that subthreshold BPD in adolescents is associated with impairments in HRQoL and psychopathological distress comparable to full-syndrome BPD.

FINDINGS raise awareness on the importance of early detection and question the diagnostic validity and clinical utility of existing cut-offs.

FINDINGS support a lower diagnostic cut-off for adolescent BPD, to identify those at-risk at an early stage.

Language: en


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