Identifying Trajectories of Borderline Personality Features in Adolescence
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OBJECTIVE: To examine trajectories of adolescent borderline personality (BP) features in a normative-risk cohort (n = 566) of Canadian children assessed at ages 13, 14, 15, and 16 and childhood predictors of trajectory group membership assessed at ages 8, 10, 11, and 12. METHOD: Data were drawn from the McMaster Teen Study, an on-going study examining relations among bullying, mental health, and academic achievement. Participants and their parents completed a battery of mental health and peer relations questionnaires at each wave of the study. Academic competence was assessed at age 8 (Grade 3). Latent class growth analysis, analysis of variance, and logistic regression were used to analyze the data. RESULTS: Three distinct BP features trajectory groups were identified: elevated or rising, intermediate or stable, and low or stable. Parent- and child-reported mental health symptoms, peer relations risk factors, and intra-individual risk factors were significant predictors of elevated or rising and intermediate or stable trajectory groups. Child-reported attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and somatization symptoms uniquely predicted elevated or rising trajectory group membership, whereas parent-reported anxiety and child-reported ADHD symptoms uniquely predicted intermediate or stable trajectory group membership. Child-reported somatization symptoms was the only predictor to differentiate the intermediate or stable and elevated or rising trajectory groups (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.28). Associations between child-reported reactive temperament and elevated BP features trajectory group membership were 10.23 times higher among children who were bullied, supporting a diathesis-stress pathway in the development of BP features for these youth. CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrate the heterogeneous course of BP features in early adolescence and shed light on the potential prodromal course of later borderline personality disorder.
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