Does co-occurring borderline personality disorder influence acute phase treatment for first-episode psychosis?

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This aims of this study were: (1) to determine the prevalence of co-occurring borderline personality disorder (BPD) in a first-episode psychosis (FEP) sample; (2) to determine differences between patients with and without BPD on demographics, comorbidities and clinical risks and other variables; and (3) to examine whether BPD comorbidity influenced treatment received by patients for FEP during their first 3 months after service entry to a specialist early psychosis service.


A file audit was conducted for 100 consecutive admissions to an early psychosis service. Patients with a clinician-rated co-occurring diagnosis of BPD were compared with patients without clinician-rated BPD on a range of variables.


Twenty-two percent of the FEP sample was diagnosed with co-occurring BPD by clinician ratings. The FEP group with co-occurring BPD was found to be younger, more likely to have other comorbidities, and were at higher risk of suicide and violent behaviour. Group differences were found in treatment received for FEP, whereby patients with co-occurring BPD had poorer access to standard treatment, including guideline concordant antipsychotic medication prescription.


Young people with co-occurring clinician-rated BPD and FEP experienced greater difficulty accessing standard care for FEP and received relatively different treatment, including different pharmacotherapy, compared with those FEP patients without BPD. There is a need to develop new clinical guidelines and effective treatments for this specific subgroup with early psychosis and co-occurring BPD that take into account interpersonal and “premorbid” aspects of their presenting problems.

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