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Keywords:

  • attitudes;
  • borderline;
  • education;
  • personality;
  • training.

Objective:  To assess the effect of a two-day training workshop on clinician attitudes to working with people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The main goal of the workshop was to achieve positive change in the attitude of clinicians treating people with BPD in a public setting. The hypothesis underlying the intervention was that informing clinicians about current concepts of the diagnosis, aetiology, prognosis and treatment of BPD, combined with detailed discussion of the principles of treatment in the public setting, would result in positive attitude change.

Method:  Changes in attitudes (optimism, enthusiasm, confidence and willingness to work with people with BPD) and self-perceptions of knowledge and skills among staff working with BPD patients were assessed for 418 participants from public mental health and substance abuse services who attended the workshops over an 18-month period. A survey questionnaire was administered pre- and post-workshop and at 6 month follow-up (time 1, time 2, time 3, respectively). One-way repeated measures analysis of variance (anova) were carried out to compare scores on attitudes and perceptions of knowledge and skills at time 1, time 2 and time 3.

Results:  The results from repeated measures anova show that there was a statistically significant effect for time for all six items. Analyses of within-subject contrasts indicated that, for all six variables, the time 2 and the time 3 scores were statistically significantly different from time 1 scores (p < 0.01). These findings confirm that there were statistically significant changes at the post-workshop assessment, which were either maintained or showed a non-significant decrease at 6-month follow-up.

Conclusions:  The brief training workshop described was effective in achieving positive attitude change in clinicians working with patients with BPD. This research shows that it is possible through brief training to assist clinician positivity and to effect clinician attitude change. Implications of this research could include the influencing of future training of clinicians in public mental health and substance abuse fields.