Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder: Is Supply Adequate to Meet Public Health Needs?

Psychiatr Serv. 2019 Sep 1;70(9):772-781. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2019 May 29.


Objectives: This study aimed to assess the supply of and demand for treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD) to inform current standards of care and training in the context of available resources worldwide.

Methods: The total supply of mental health professionals and mental health professionals certified in specialist evidence-based treatments for BPD was estimated for 22 countries by using data from publicly available sources and training programs. BPD prevalence and treatment-seeking rates were drawn from large-scale national epidemiological studies. Ratios of treatment-seeking patients to available providers were computed to assess whether current systems are able to meet demand. Training and certification requirements were summarized.

Results: The ratio of treatment-seeking patients with BPD to mental health professionals (irrespective of professionals' interest or training in treating BPD) ranged from approximately 4:1 in Australia, the Netherlands, and Norway to 192:1 in Singapore. The ratio of treatment-seeking patients to clinicians certified in providing evidence-based care ranged from 49:1 in Norway to 148,215:1 in Mexico. Certification requirements differed by treatment and by country.

Conclusions: Shortages of both providers available to treat BPD and providers certified in specialist treatments of BPD exist in most of the 22 countries studied. In well-resourced countries, training clinicians to provide generalist or abbreviated treatments for BPD, in addition to specialist treatments, could help address the current implementation gap. More resource-efficient alternatives must be considered in countries with insufficient staff to implement even generalist treatments. Consideration of realistic allocation of care may shape future guidelines and standards of BPD treatments, beyond intensive evidence-based psychotherapies.

Keywords: Access to care; Borderline personality disorder; Evidence-based treatments; Generalist treatments; Implementation; Training requirements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Borderline Personality Disorder / therapy*
  • Certification / statistics & numerical data*
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Workforce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization / statistics & numerical data*