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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2007 May;53(3):195-203.

Psychological distress in caretakers or relatives of patients with borderline personality disorder.

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  • 1Tilburg University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology and Health, The Netherlands.



Caregivers or relatives of mental patients often show increased levels of psychological distress. This study investigated whether this is also the case for caregivers of patients with borderline personality disorder.


The Symptom Check List (SCL-90) was administered to 64 Dutch volunteers, who were either biologically related (parents or siblings) or biologically unrelated caregivers (partners or friends) of patients with borderline personality disorder.


The group of caregivers as a whole scored higher on all symptom dimensions of the SCL-90 than the general population. When controlling for caregiver sex and age, as well as for patient sex, there were no significant differences between the biologically related and unrelated caregiver groups on any dimension.


The results are in line with findings concerning distress in caregivers of patients suffering from personality disorders in general, posttraumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia. The mechanism behind the increased levels of distress in our sample is not clear, however. Either exposure to the problematic behaviour of the patient, selective mating or a combination of both might have been responsible for the effect.

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