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J Psychiatr Pract. 2009 Jan;15(1):12-24. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000344915.61706.d4.

Community-based psychodynamic treatment program for severe personality disorders: clinical description and naturalistic evaluation.

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The Cassel Hospital, Richmond, London.


Long-term inpatient treatment for personality disorders has become infrequent in the last two decades, and the gap left in service provision has been filled by psychodynamically and cognitively oriented partial hospitalization and outpatient, community-based approaches. It is still uncertain how these low-cost, lower-intensity models have fared relative to residential models that treat patients with severe personality disorders with the containment and control offered by the inpatient setting. In this article, we describe key features of a community-based psychodynamic program developed at the Cassel Hospital in the United Kingdom and present preliminary findings of a 2-year prospective naturalistic outcome study that monitored psychiatric morbidity (Brief Symptom Inventory General Severity Index [BSI-GSI]) and clinical outcome (self-mutilation, suicide attempts, and hospital admissions) in 68 patients with personality disorders who were consecutively admitted to the program. Improvements shown by the community-based sample on all variables were compared with the results in a comparable sample of inpatients treated in a long-term psychosocial treatment program in the same institution. The naturalistic comparison of the two non-randomized treatment models revealed that the community-based sample improved to a significantly greater degree on all three clinical outcome dimensions and had significantly lower early dropout rates than those who received the long-term residential treatment. The findings indicate that, at least in terms of impulsive behavior and treatment adherence, the community-based program appears to offer a viable adequate alternative to long-term inpatient admission.

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