Evaluation of a novel risk assessment method for self-harm associated with Borderline Personality Disorder

Sathya Rao, Jillian H. Broadbear, Katherine Thompson, Anna Correia, Martin Preston, Paul Katz, Robert Trett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is associated with frequent self-harm and suicidal behaviours. This study compared physician-assessed self-harm risk and intervention choice according to a (i) standard risk assessment and (ii) BPD-specific risk assessment methods. Methods: Forty-five junior and senior mental health physicians were assigned to standard or BPD-specific risk training groups. The assessment utilized a BPD case vignette containing four scenarios describing high/low lethality self-harm and chronic/new patterns of self-harm behaviour. Participants chose from among four interventions, each corresponding to a risk category. Results: Standard and BPD-specific groups were alike in their assessment of self-harm risk. Divergence occurred on intervention choice for assessments of low lethality, chronic risk (p<.01) and high lethality, chronic risk (p<.005). Overall, psychiatrists were more likely than their junior colleagues to correctly assess risk and management options. Conclusions: Although standard and BPD-specific methods are well aligned for assessing self harm-associated risk, BPD-specific training raised awareness of BPD-appropriate interventions, particularly in the context of chronic patterns of self-harm behaviour. Wider dissemination of BPD-specific risk training may enhance the confidence of mental health clinicians in identifying the nature of self-harm risk as well as the most clinically appropriate interventions for clients with BPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-465
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • physician education
  • risk assessment
  • self-harm
  • self-injury

Cite this