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Keywords:

  • borderline personality disorder;
  • comorbidity;
  • early psychosis;
  • first-episode psychosis;
  • RCT

Abstract

Aim: First-episode psychosis and borderline personality disorder are severe mental disorders that have their onset in youth. Their co-occurrence is clinically well recognized, is associated with significant risks and is complex to treat. Yet, there is no published specific intervention for this problem. This study reports a pilot randomized controlled trial comparing combined specialist first-episode treatment plus specialist early intervention for borderline personality, entitled Helping Young People Early, with specialist first-episode treatment alone. We aimed to evaluate the safety and feasibility of adding early intervention for borderline personality.

Methods: The study investigated the safety of specialist first-episode treatment plus specialist early intervention for borderline personality in relation to deterioration in psychosis, aggression, self-harm and suicidality, and feasibility in relation to the completion of therapy phases. Sixteen patients meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria for first-episode psychosis and borderline personality (four or more DSM-IV criteria) were randomized either to specialist first-episode treatment alone or specialist first-episode treatment plus specialist early intervention for borderline personality and were followed up at the end of treatment and 6 months later.

Results: The results showed that it was feasible to recruit and assess a high risk and complex group of patients who were agreeable to study participation. Specialist first-episode treatment plus specialist early intervention for borderline personality was an acceptable and safe treatment.

Conclusion: A larger-scale randomized controlled trial of early intervention for borderline personality for young first-episode psychosis patients with co-occurring full or subsyndromal borderline personality is warranted.