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Experience, knowledge and attitudes of mental health staff regarding clients with a borderline personality disorder

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A survey of mental health staff experience, knowledge and attitudes regarding the management of clients with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) aimed to obtain baseline data to provide direction for developing planned education and determining staff willingness to participate in such training. A 23-item questionnaire was developed and posted to mental health staff in a public Area Mental Health Service in New South Wales (n = 516). A total of 229 staff completed the questionnaire. Most staff (85%) reported having contact with clients who have a diagnosis of BPD at least once a month or more frequently, with 32% of respondents reporting daily contact. Eighty per cent of respondents found dealing with clients who have a BPD to be moderate to very difficult; 84% of staff felt that dealing with this client group was more difficult than dealing with other client groups. Most staff (82%) believed that, as mental health professionals, they had a role in the assessment, management and referral of clients with BPD, as well as in educating and providing information. Staff readily identified resources which would be helpful to them when working with such clients. It was encouraging to see that the majority of staff (95%) indicated their willingness to gain further education and training in the management of these clients. Although many staff believed they were knowledgeable about and confident in managing these clients, most staff also indicated difficulties posed by these clients and perceived a need for further education and training in this area.
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Keywords: borderline personality disorder; experience; knowledge; staff attitudes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Central Sydney Area Mental Health Service, New South Wales, Australia, 2: South African Cochrane Centre, Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, South Africa,

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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