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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 6, 375 - 386

New research

Personality disorders in older adults: A Delphi-study conducted among Dutch and Belgian experts concerning specific diagnostic and therapeutic aspects

S.P.J. van Alphen, N. Bolwerk, A.C. Videler, J.H.A. Tummers, R.J.J. van Royen, H.P.J. Barendse, K.A.P. Penders, C. Scheepers, R. Verheul

In psychiatry for older adults (> 60 years) personality disorders play an important part in diagnosis and treatment and in the advice given to health professionals and carers on how to deal with this age group. So far, however, research in this area has been inadequate.
aim To investigate age-related diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of personality disorders occurring in adults over the age of 60.
method A Delphi-study was conducted among 35 Dutch and Belgian experts in the field of personality disorders in older adults. This multidisciplinary panel consisted of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, geriatricians and psychiatric nurses. In four rounds 21 gerontological statements to be assessed on a 5-point Likert scale were presented to the panel of experts. Agreement was said to be reached when at least two thirds of the experts ‘agreed’ or ‘fully agreed’ with a statement.
results Satisfactory agreement was reached in the case of 20 of the 21 diagnostic and/or therapeutic statements about older adults with personality disorders.
conclusion There seem to be various age-specific aspects in the diagnosis and treatment of personality disorders in older adults. Therefore, it is advisable to pay more attention to this highly complex group of older adults when guidelines and protocols are being drawn up and scientific research is being planned or conducted.

keywords Delphi-method, diagnostics, older adults, personality disorders, therapy