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How to Assess Recovery in Borderline Personality Disorder: Psychosocial Functioning and Satisfaction With Life in a Sample of Former DBT Study Patients

Longitudinal studies provide substantial evidence for a high rate of symptomatic remission in borderline personality disorder (BPD), while social and vocational functioning seems to remain consistently impaired. Less data is available on recovery and the associated objective and personal indicators. We examined 58 patients 12–18 years after their diagnosis of BPD and compared two different recovery criteria: observer-based global assessment of functioning and self-rated satisfaction with life (SWL). Symptomatic remission was observed in 81% of the participants (according to DSM-IV), but only 44% of them achieved a GAF level > 60, and only 49% reported SWL within the range of one standard deviation of the normal population. In line with previous research, our data show that DSM symptom remission alone is an insufficient indicator for recovery from BPD. Replacing the GAF with patient-reported satisfaction with life considers empowerment in BPD and offers an efficient alternative criterion for recovery.

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