• systematic review;
  • personality disorders;
  • nursing intervention;
  • effectiveness

Background. Nurses usually provide care for people with personality disorders on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, it is important to establish how effective nursing interventions are for those with personality disorders, both in terms of general management and more specific therapeutic approaches. These are also issues of current political and professional debate. The crucial question, however, for planners, providers and commissioners of services is, What research evidence is there about effectiveness? There is also a need to determine what further research is necessary to evaluate programmes for managing or modifying behaviours.

Aim. The aim of this paper is to report on a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of nursing interventions in people with personality disorders, whether delivered by nurses alone or in combination with other health care professionals.

Method. The review was conducted according to the United Kingdom National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination guidelines. Literature was identified from electronic database searching, footnote chasing, hand searching of journals and contact with authors of studies. Narrative synthesis was undertaken in relation to study design, participants, and type of intervention.

Findings. Eighteen separate studies were included in the review: four randomized controlled trials, four non-randomized controlled trials, seven before-and-after studies and three case studies.

Conclusions. There is a weak evidence-base for what constitutes effective nursing intervention with people with personality disorders. There is stronger evidence from mixed disciplines intervention studies than from nursing only intervention studies. Studies of interventions based on psychological approaches show greater improvements in outcomes than nursing management studies.