Borderline Personality Pathology and Physical Health: The Role of Employment

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Abstract

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is associated with negative physical health outcomes. Clinical case studies suggest that employment status may buffer against the negative effects of BPD on physical health. The goal of the current study was to examine the interaction between BPD features and employment status in predicting subjective perceptions of physical health. We hypothesized that employment status would moderate the relationship between BPD features and physical health, such that individuals who are employed would exhibit a weaker negative relationship between BPD features and self- and informant ratings of physical health. We investigated this question using data from a community sample of 1,630 middle-aged to older adults participating in the St. Louis Personality and Aging Network, an ongoing study of personality, health, and aging. Results indicated that employment status and BPD features were significant predictors of both self- and informant ratings of physical health. Confirming our hypothesis, the interaction term contributed to a significant increase in the proportion of explained variance, suggesting that employment is associated with a weaker negative relationship between BPD features and physical health. These findings highlight the importance of examining occupational functioning in the long-term course of BPD and offer avenues for further research into moderators of the relationship between BPD features and physical health.

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