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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 59 (2017) 12, 750 - 758

New research

Inpatient dialectical behaviour therapy for borderline personality disorder: effect on symptoms, coping, attachment and quality of life

J.M. Oostendorp, F. Chakhssi

background Dialectical behaviour therapy (dbt) is an effective treatment for patients suffering from borderline personality disorder (bpd). When outpatient treatment is ineffective, patients are often referred to inpatient (group) treatment. As of yet, little is known about the effectiveness of inpatient (group) dbt. An altered style of attachment is one of the presumed components of inpatient (group) treatment. At present, this supposition has not yet been examined in inpatient dbt programs.
aim To examine the treatment outcome of an inpatient group dbt program for patients suffering from bpd, evaluating symptoms, coping, attachment style and quality of life. Whether an improvement in attachment style during treatment is a predictor of psychological wellbeing at the end of treatment will also be examined.
method An inpatient group dbt population, comprising of 64 patients diagnosed with bpd, was evaluated. Self-report questionnaires assessed symptoms, coping, attachment style and quality of life at the start of treatment, after 19 weeks and at the end of treatment.
results The mentioned variables significantly improved in the inpatients of the group dbt program (treatment lasting on average 7.2 months). Furthermore, positive changes in secure and preoccupied attachment style were a significant predictor of psychological wellbeing at the end of the treatment.
conclusion We conclude that patients diagnosed with bpd may benefit from an inpatient dbt (group) program. Improvements in attachment style during inpatient treatment may contribute to this benefit.

keywords attachment, attachment style, borderline personality disorder (bpd), dialectical behaviour therapy (dbt), inpatient psychotherapy