The prevalence of personality disorder among UK primary care attenders


Dr Paul Moran, Section of Epidemiology and General Practice, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.


Objective: To determine the prevalence rate of personality disorder among a consecutive sample of UK primary care attenders. Associations between a diagnosis of personality disorder, sociodemographic background and common mental disorder were examined.

Method: Three hundred and three consecutive primary care attenders were examined for the presence of ICD-10 and DSM-4 personality disorders using an informant-based interview.

Results: Personality disorder was diagnosed in 24% (95% CI: 19–29) of the sample. Personality-disordered subjects were more likely to have psychiatric morbidity as indicated by GHQ-12, to report previous psychological morbidity, to be single and to attend the surgery on an emergency basis. ‘Cluster B’ personality disorders were particularly associated with psychiatric morbidity.

Conclusion: There is a high prevalence rate of personality disorders among primary care attenders. These disorders are associated with the presence of common mental disorder and unplanned surgery attendance. Personality disorders may represent a significant source of burden in primary care.