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J Psychiatr Pract. 2009 May;15(3):173-82. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000351877.45260.70.

A 5-day dialectical behavior therapy partial hospital program for women with borderline personality disorder: predictors of outcome from a 3-month follow-up study.

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Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.



This study describes naturalistic 3-month follow-up after discharge from a 5-day partial hospitalization dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program for women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). We also examined individual BPD criteria as predictors of treatment response.


Fifty women diagnosed with BPD were consecutively recruited from a partial hospital DBT program, 47 of whom (94%) completed all assessments including baseline (prior to discharge) and 3-months post-discharge assessments. Most continued with some combination of individual psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, and all had the option of continuing with weekly DBT skills classes. Baseline scores were compared to 3-month scores using paired two-tailed non-parametric (sign) tests. Regression analyses were conducted to identify predictors of outcome.


Depression, hopelessness, anger expression, dissociation, and general psychopathology scores significantly decreased over the 3-month follow-up interval, although scores on several measures remained in the clinical range. Those who endorsed emptiness, impulsivity, and relationship disturbance demonstrated improvement on a number of outcomes, while those who endorsed identity disturbance and fear of abandonment had less improvement on some outcomes.


These findings illustrate (1) that improvement occurred over a 3-month interval on a number of measures in patients receiving treatment as usual following discharge from a partial hospitalization program, and (2) that BPD is a complex, heterogeneous disorder for which there is no single pathognomonic criterion, so that each criterion should be considered individually in determining its potential effect on treatment outcomes.

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