The field of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) research is rapidly expanding, improving our understanding of contributing factors, comorbidities, prognosis, evidence-based treatments, biological signposts, and changes in symptom expression across the life span. Longitudinal studies have provided robust evidence of remission and recovery, greatly improving the outlook for people with BPD, their families, and the medical and community services that support them.

Over the past 20 years perceptions relating to BPD have changed considerably. Originally perceived as a serious, untreatable disorder with a poor prognosis, it is now widely accepted that BPD has a hopeful prognosis. Key to this is early diagnosis and access to evidence-based psychotherapy.

Implementing effective treatment services remains a challenge worldwide, as psychotherapy is expensive, and the diagnosis is often difficult to make. Diagnosis and treatment may also be delayed due to complications arising from co-occurring disorders, which are common in people with BPD. The persistence of stigma associated with having a BPD diagnosis may also impede access to appropriate treatment.

Conservative estimates suggest that BPD affects at least one to two per cent of people in our community. Untreated BPD is often associated with life-long distress and disability, with ongoing social dysfunction that affects families, and reduces engagement with education and career opportunities. BPD has similar prevalence to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia; as many as 10 per cent of people with BPD will take their own lives. Despite these startling numbers, health services are often inadequately resourced, and may struggle to identify and treat people with BPD.

Spectrum Research

Spectrum has an active research program and we welcome contact from mental health workers to discuss and participate in studies that are designed to clarify aetiology and diagnosis, investigate treatment efficacy, and highlight training needs to improve services for people diagnosed with BPD, and those who support them.

If you would like to discuss our current research activities and your research interests, please phone (03) 8413 8750 or email

Research papers

Longitudinal studies of recovery from BPD

Suicide and self-harm papers

Stigma in relation to diagnosis of BPD

Key papers highlighting the evidence-based BPD treatments

Recent reviews of the ‘common factors’ treatment hypothesis