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Personality disorders in the community: results from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing Part II. Relationships between personality disorder, Axis I mental disorders and physical conditions with disability and health consultations.

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Department of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Victoria, Australia.



The aims of this study were threefold. First, to ascertain whether personality disorder (PD) was a significant predictor of disability (as measured in a variety of ways) over and above that contributed by Axis I mental disorders and physical conditions. Second, whether the number of PD diagnoses given to an individual resulted in increasing severity of disability, and third, whether PD was a significant predictor of health and mental health consultations with GPs, psychiatrists, and psychologists, respectively, over the last 12 months.


Data were obtained from the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, conducted between May and August 1997. A stratified random sample of households was generated, from which all those aged 18 and over were considered potential interviewees. There were 10,641 respondents to the survey, and this represented a response rate of 78 %. Each interviewee was asked questions indexing specific ICD-10 PD criteria.


Five measures of disability were examined. It was found that PD was a significant predictor of disability once Axis I and physical conditions were taken into account for four of the five disability measures. For three of the dichotomously-scored disability measures, odds ratios ranged from 1.88 to 6.32 for PD, whilst for the dimensionally-scored Mental Summary Subscale of the SF-12, a beta weight of -0.17 was recorded for PD. As regards number of PDs having a quasi-linear relationship to disability, there was some indication of this on the SF-12 Mental Summary Subscale and the two role functioning measures, and less so on the other two measures. As regards mental consultations, PD was a predictor of visits to GPs, psychiatrists and psychologists, over and above Axis I disorders and physical conditions.


The study reports findings from a nationwide survey conducted within Australia and as such the data are less influenced by the selection and setting bias inherent in other germane studies. However, it does support previous findings that PD is a significant predictor of disability and mental health consultations independent of Axis I disorders and physical conditions.

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