Attitudes toward borderline personality disorder: A survey of 706 mental health clinicians

Donald W. Black, Nancee Blum, Bruce Pfohl, Brett Mccormick, Jeff Allen, Carol S North, Katharine A. Phillips, Clive Robins, Larry Siever, Kenneth R. Silk, Janet B W Williams, Mark Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Objective: We sought to determine attitudes toward patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) among mental health clinicians at nine academic centers in the United States. Methods: A self-report questionnaire was distributed to 706 mental health clinicians, including psychiatrists, psychiatry residents, social workers, nurses, and psychologists. Results: The study showed that most clinicians consider BPD a valid diagnosis, although nearly half reported that they preferred to avoid these patients. The clinician's occupational subgroup was significantly related to attitude. Staff nurses had the lowest self-ratings on overall caring attitudes, while social workers had the highest. Social workers and psychiatrists had the highest ratings on treatment optimism. Social workers and psychologists were most optimistic about psychotherapy effectiveness, while psychiatrists were most optimistic about medication effectiveness. Staff nurses had the lowest self-ratings on empathy toward patients with BPD and treatment optimism. Discussion: Negative attitudes persist among clinicians toward BPD, but differ among occupational subgroups. Overall, caring attitudes, empathy, and treatment optimism were all higher among care providers who had cared for a greater number of BPD patients in the past 12 months. Conclusion: These findings hold important implications for clinician education and coordination of care for patients with BPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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