The Effectiveness of 6 versus 12 Months of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Noninferiority Randomized Clinical Trial Journal Articles uri icon

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  • <b><i>Introduction:</i></b> Evidence-based psychotherapies for borderline personality disorder (BPD) are lengthy, posing a barrier to their access. Brief psychotherapy may achieve comparable outcomes to long-term psychotherapy for BPD. Evidence is needed regarding the comparative effectiveness of short- versus long-term psychotherapy for BPD. <b><i>Objective:</i></b> The aim was to determine if 6 months of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is noninferior to 12 months of DBT in terms of clinical effectiveness. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> This two-arm, single-blinded, randomized controlled noninferiority trial with suicidal or self-harming patients with BPD was conducted at two sites in Canada. Participants (<i>N</i> = 240, <i>M</i> (SD)<sub>age</sub> = 28.27 (8.62), 79% females) were randomized to receive either 6 (DBT-6) or 12 months (DBT-12) of comprehensive DBT. Masked assessors obtained measures of clinical effectiveness at baseline and every 3 months, ending at month 24. DBT-6 and DBT-12 were outpatient treatments consisting of weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group sessions, telephone consultation as needed, and weekly therapist consultation team meetings. <b><i>Results:</i></b> The noninferiority hypothesis was supported for the primary outcome, total self-harm (6 months: margin = −1.94, <i>M</i><sub>diff</sub> [95% CI] = 0.16 [−0.14, 0.46]; 12 months: margin = −1.47, <i>M</i><sub>diff</sub> [95% CI] = 0.04 [−0.17, 0.23]; 24 months: margin = −1.25, <i>M</i><sub>diff</sub> [95% CI] = 0.12 [−0.02, 0.36]). Results also supported noninferiority of DBT-6 for general psychopathology and coping skills at 24 months. Furthermore, DBT-6 participants showed more rapid reductions in BPD symptoms and general psychopathology. There were no between-group differences in dropout rates. <b><i>Conclusions:</i></b> The noninferiority of a briefer yet comprehensive treatment for BPD has potential to reduce barriers to treatment access.


  • McMain, Shelley F
  • Chapman, Alexander L
  • Kuo, Janice R
  • Dixon-Gordon, Katherine L
  • Guimond, Timothy Henry
  • Labrish, Cathy
  • Isaranuwatchai, Wanrudee
  • Streiner, David Lloyd

publication date

  • 2022