Prevalence, correlates, and disability of personality disorders in the United States: results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions

J Clin Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;65(7):948-58. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v65n0711.


Objective: To present nationally representative data on the prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and disability of 7 of the 10 DSM-IV personality disorders.

Method: The data were derived from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (N = 43,093). Diagnoses were made using the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-DSM-IV Version, and associations between personality disorders and sociodemographic correlates were determined. The relationship between personality disorders and 3 emotional disability scores (Short-Form 12, version 2) was also examined.

Results: Overall, 14.79% of adult Americans (95% CI = 14.08 to 15.50), or 30.8 million, had at least 1 personality disorder. The most prevalent personality disorder in the general population was obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, 7.88% (95% CI = 7.43 to 8.33), followed by paranoid personality disorder 4.41% (95% CI = 4.12 to 4.70), antisocial personality disorder 3.63% (95% CI = 3.34 to 3.92), schizoid personality disorder 3.13% (95% CI = 2.89 to 3.37), avoidant personality disorder 2.36% (95% CI = 2.14 to 2.58), histrionic personality disorder 1.84% (95% CI = 1.66 to 2.02), and dependent personality disorder 0.49% (95% CI = 0.40 to 0.58). The risk of avoidant, dependent, and paranoid personality disorders was significantly greater among women than men (p <.05); the risk of antisocial personality disorder was greater among men compared with women (p <.05); and no sex differences were observed in the risk of obsessive-compulsive, schizoid, or histrionic personality disorders. In general, risk factors for personality disorders included being Native American or black, being a young adult, having low socioeconomic status, and being divorced, separated, widowed, or never married. Avoidant, dependent, schizoid, paranoid, and antisocial personality disorders (p <.02 to p <.0001) were each statistically significant predictors of disability. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder was inconsistently related to disability. In contrast, disability was not significantly different among individuals with histrionic personality disorder compared with those without the disorder.

Conclusion: Personality disorders are prevalent in the general population and are generally highly associated with disability. This study highlights the need to develop more effective and targeted prevention and intervention initiatives for personality disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population