Background: A randomized clinical trial was conducted to evaluate whether the superior performance of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a psychosocial treatment for borderline personality disorder, compared with treatment-as-usual in the community, is maintained during a 1-year posttreatment follow-up.
Methods: We analyzed 39 women who met criteria for borderline personality disorder, defined by Gunderson's Diagnostic Interview for Borderline Personality Disorder and DSM-III-R criteria, and who had a history of parasuicidal behavior. Subjects were randomly assigned either to 1 year of DBT, a cognitive behavioral therapy that combines individual psychotherapy with group behavioral skills training, or to treatment-as-usual, which may or may not have included individual psychotherapy. Efficacy was measured on parasuicidal behavior (Parasuicide History Interview), psychiatric inpatient days (Treatment History Interview), anger (State-Trait Anger Scale), global functioning (Global Assessment Scale), and social adjustment (Social Adjustment Scale--Interview and Social Adjustment Scale--Self-Report). Subjects were assessed at 6 and 12 months into the follow-up year.
Results: Comparison of the two conditions revealed that throughout the follow-up year, DBT subjects had significantly higher Global Assessment Scale scores. During the initial 6 months of the follow-up, DBT subjects had significantly less parasuicidal behavior, less anger, and better self-reported social adjustment. During the final 6 months, DBT subjects had significantly fewer psychiatric inpatient days and better interviewer-rated social adjustment.
Conclusion: In general, the superiority of DBT over treatment-as-usual, found in previous studies at the completion of 1 year of treatment, was retained during a 1-year follow-up.