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Br J Clin Psychol. 2003 Sep;42(Pt 3):243-56.

The effects of the psychiatric label 'borderline personality disorder' on nursing staff's perceptions and causal attributions for challenging behaviours.

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  • 1Psychology Department, South Warwickshire Primary Care Trust and University of Birmingham, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of the study was to investigate how the psychiatric label 'borderline personality disorder' (BPD) affected staff's perceptions and causal attributions about patients' behaviour.

METHODS AND DESIGN:

The study utilized a within-participants questionnaire methodology and participants comprised qualified mental health nursing staff. The questionnaire contained descriptions of challenging behaviour in which the patient was described with a diagnosis of depression, schizophrenia or BPD. Participants were asked to identify a likely cause of the behaviour and then on a Likert-type scale rate attributions of internality, stability, globality and controllability. In addition they recorded their level of sympathy with the patient and their optimism for change.

RESULTS:

Patients with a label of BPD attracted more negative responses from staff than those with a label of schizophrenia or depression. Causes of their negative behaviour were rated as more stable and they were thought to be more in control of the causes of the behaviour and the behaviour itself. Staff reported less sympathy and optimism towards patients with a diagnosis of BPD and rated their personal experiences as more negative than their experiences of working with patients with a diagnosis of depression or schizophrenia.

CONCLUSIONS:

Staff regard patients with a BPD label to be more in control of negative behaviour than patients with a label of schizophrenia or depression. In accord with Weiner's (1985) model, attributions of control were inversely related to staff sympathy. Addressing attributions of control may provide a means to modify staff sympathy towards patients with a diagnosis of BPD and counteract their negative experiences.

PMID:
14565891
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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