Clusters of borderline personality disorder traits and functional life outcomes

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Melina K. Sneesby (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Rosemery Nelson Gray

Abstract: Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) experience significant distress in daily life. In order to receive a BPD diagnosis in the DSM-5-TR, individuals must exhibit a minimum of five out of nine diagnostic criteria. This allows for as many as 256 combinations of the nine diagnostic criteria to warrant a BPD diagnosis and subsequently leads to substantial variation in symptom manifestation and behavioral outcomes across affected individuals. The present study therefore sought to parse out the heterogeneity within BPD by clarifying clusters of BPD traits and examining how they predict distinct functional outcomes. Undergraduate students (N = 504) completed the Personality Assessment Inventory- Borderline Features Scale (PAI-BOR) and several self-report questionnaires to assess functioning across life domains (i.e., global life functioning, social functioning, romantic functioning [trust and attachment], and emotional functioning [emotional intelligence and emotion regulation]). Confirmatory factor analysis revealed a five-factor structure within the PAI-BOR, consisting of Impulsivity, Mood Instability, Chronic Emptiness, Separation Concerns, and Negative Relationships. Using these BPD factors, a person-centered approach identified three distinct clusters in the data and how they relate to functional life outcomes: (1) High Functioning (i.e., low scores on factors and best outcomes), (2) Moderate Functioning (i.e., average scores on factors and outcomes), and (3) Low Functioning (i.e., high scores on factors and poorest outcomes). This cluster and functional outcome differentiation based on BPD trait severity provides support for the predictive validity of the PAI-BOR. In addition, it has important implications for prognosis and informing treatment, such as anticipating the extent of life dysfunction and emphasizing the need to comprehensively intervene with all five traits.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Borderline personality disorder, BPD subgroups, BPD trait severity, PAI-BOR, Personality trait profiles, Treatment implications
Borderline personality disorder $x Diagnosis
Personality Assessment Inventory

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