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Comparison of treatment outcomes in severe personality disorder patients with or without substance use disorders: a 36-month prospective pragmatic follow-up study

Authors Lana F, Sanchez-Gil C, Adroher N, Perez Sola V, Feixas G, Martí-Bonany J, Torrens Melich M

Received 12 February 2016

Accepted for publication 31 March 2016

Published 21 June 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 1477—1487


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Fernando Lana,1–3 Carmen Sánchez-Gil,1–3 Núria D Adroher,4,5 Víctor Pérez,1–4 Guillem Feixas,6 Josep Martí-Bonany,1–3 Marta Torrens1–4

1Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions (INAD), Centre Emili Mira and Hospital del Mar, Parc de Salut Mar, Barcelona, Spain; 2Mental Health Research Networking Center (CIBERSAM), Madrid, Spain; 3Department of Psychiatry, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; 4IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute), Barcelona, Spain; 5Public Health and Epidemiology Research Networking Center (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain; 6Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Background: Concurrent personality disorder (PD) and substance use disorder (SUD) are common in clinical practice. However, SUD is the main criterion for study exclusion in most psychotherapeutic studies of PD. As a result, data on treatment outcomes in patients with concurrent PD/SUD are scarce.
Methods: The study sample consisted of 51 patients diagnosed with severe PD and admitted for psychotherapeutic treatment as a part of routine mental health care. All patients were diagnosed with PD according to the Structured Clinical Interview for PD. Patients were further assessed (DSM-IV diagnostic criteria) to check for the presence of concurrent SUD, with 28 patients diagnosed with both disorders (PD-SUD). These 28 cases were then compared to the 23 patients without SUD (PD-nSUD) in terms of psychiatric hospitalizations and psychiatric emergency room (ER) visits before and during the 6-month therapeutic intervention and every 6 months thereafter for a total of 36 months.
Results: The baseline clinical characteristics correspond to a sample of PD patients (78% met DSM-IV criteria for borderline PD) with poor general functioning and a high prevalence of suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors. Altogether, the five outcome variables – the proportion and the number of psychiatric inpatient admissions, the number of days hospitalized, and the proportion and the number of psychiatric ER visits – improved significantly during the treatment period, and this improvement was maintained throughout the follow-up period. Although PD-SUD patients had more psychiatric hospitalizations and ER visits than PD-nSUD patients during follow-up, the differences between these two groups remained stable over the study period indicating that the treatment was equally effective in both groups.
Conclusion: Specialized psychotherapy for severe PD can be effectively applied in patients with concurrent PD-SUD under usual practice conditions. These findings suggest that exclusion of patients with dual disorders from specialized treatments is unjustified.

Keywords: personality disorder, substance use disorder, borderline personality disorder, dual disorders, psychotherapy, pragmatic clinical study


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