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Personality Disorder

Personality disorder and self-rated health: a population-based cross-sectional survey (2013)

M. Fok, M. Hotopf, R. Stewart, S. Hatch, R. Hayes and P. Moran



People with a mental disorder also have more physical health problems compared to individuals without a mental disorder. Individuals with Personality Disorders (PD) are more likely to experience specific health conditions, such as cardio vascular disease, but there is little information about the impact of PD  more generally on physical health. This study aimed to look at the general health of individuals with a personality disorder.

How was the study conducted?

1,698 adults from two South East London boroughs were interviewed from 2008-2010. A questionnaire was used to identify the participants who were at high risk for PD. Information on general health was gathered by asking participants to rate their health as either: excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. Participants who rated their health as excellent, very good or good were classified as having ‘good health’ and participants who reported fair or poor general health were classified as having ‘poor health’. We also examined other factors which are known to affect general health including personal characteristics (age, occupation, ethnicity, etc), body mass index, exercise, alcohol use, smoking, drug use, common mental disorders (such as anxiety and depression) and long-standing illnesses.

What did we find?

A total 14.5% of participants were identified as being at high risk for PD. Compared to people who were low risk for PD, there were more high risk individuals who were not working, current smokers, had a long-standing illness or disability, and who had a common mental disorder. Individuals with a high risk for PD were also less likely to have exercised recently.

Participants who were at high risk for PD were more likely to report poor self-rated health, compared to participants who were low risk. We also found that this relationship with poor self-rated health was present for participants who scored just below the cut-off to be classified as high risk.

Individuals at high risk for PD were more likely to report the following specific long-standing illnesses: depression, asthma, other chest problems, rheumatism or arthritis, migraines, back problems, and “other illnesses”. Furthermore, people at high risk for PD were more likely to report multiple (three or more) long-standing illnesses.


We conclude that in the general population, people at risk for PD are at higher risk for poor general health. These findings highlight the importance of assessing the general health of individuals using mental health services.


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