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Compr Psychiatry. 2011 Sep-Oct;52(5):548-55. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2010.10.004. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Staff attitudes toward patients with borderline personality disorder.

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The Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, 52900 Israel.



Our aims were (1) to develop 2 inventories for the measurement of cognitive and emotional attitudes toward borderline personality disorder (BPD) patients and their treatment and (2) to use these tools to understand and compare attitudes of psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses toward BPD patients.


Two lists of items referring to cognitive (47 items) and emotional attitudes (20 items) toward BPD patients were formulated. Fifty-seven clinicians (25 nurses, 13 psychologists, and 19 psychiatrists), who had been working in public psychiatric institutions for more than 1 year, rated their level of agreement with each item. The list of cognitive attitudes yielded 3 factors (required treatment, suicidal tendencies, and antagonistic judgment). The list of emotional attitudes yielded 3 other factors (negative emotions, experienced difficulties in treatment, and empathy).


Psychologists scored lower than psychiatrists and nurses on antagonistic judgments, whereas nurses scored lower than psychiatrists and psychologists on empathy. Regression stepwise analyses conducted on the 3 emotional attitudes separately showed that suicidal tendencies of BPD patients mainly explained the negative emotions and the difficulties in treating these patients. All groups were interested in learning more about the treatment of these patients.


Suicidal tendencies of BPD patients provoke antagonistic judgments among the 3 professions. Nevertheless, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses hold distinctive cognitive and emotional attitudes toward these patients. Mapping these differences can improve the education and training in the management of BPD patients.

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