A new meta-analysis published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica suggests a significant association between childhood adversity and borderline personality disorder (BPD) and suggests that emotional abuse and neglect are particularly elevated in BPD individuals relative to controls.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 97 studies, involving a combined sample of 11,366 BPD participants, 3732 non-clinical controls and 13,128 psychiatric controls. The majority of eligible studies employed a case-control design (92 studies), with three epidemiological and two prospective cohort studies.
Pooled analysis of case-control studies indicated that individuals with BPD were 13 times more likely to report childhood adversity vs non-clinical controls (OR, 13.91; 95% CI, 11.11-17.43). This effect was smaller in a separate analysis of epidemiological (OR, 2.56; 95% CI, 1.24-5.30) and retrospective cohort (OR, 2.59; 95% CI, 0.93-7.30) studies.
Case-control studies comparing levels of reported emotional abuse and neglect in BPD and non-clinical controls led to a pooled effect size of OR: 38.11 (95% CI, 25.99-55.88) and OR: 17.73 (95% CI, 13.01-24.17), respectively. Individuals with BPD were 3.15 (95% CI, 2.87-3.47) times more likely to report childhood adversity vs other psychiatric groups.
“Our findings corroborate theoretical proposals that exposure to adverse life experiences is associated with BPD. It highlights the importance of considering childhood adversity when treating people diagnosed with BPD,” the authors wrote.