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Open Access Study protocol

Efficacy and cost-effectiveness of an experimental short-term inpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Louisa M C van den Bosch1*, Roland Sinnaeve1, Leona Hakkaart-van Roijen2 and Eric F van Furth3

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Personality Disorders Jelgersma, Postbox 750, 2300 Leiden, AT, the Netherlands

2 Institute of Health Policy and Management (iBMG) and institute for Medical Technology Assessment (iMTA), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Postbus 1738, 3000 Rotterdam, DR, the Netherlands

3 Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Center, Postbox 9600, 2300 Leiden, RC, the Netherlands

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Trials 2014, 15:152  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-152

Published: 1 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious psychiatric condition associated with substantial mortality, burden and public health costs. DBT is the treatment model with the largest number of published research articles showing effectiveness. However, some patients are not sufficiently engaged in outpatient treatment while presenting severe parasuicidal behavior, making hospitalization necessary. The Center for Personality Disorders Jelgersma developed an intensive 12-week inpatient DBT program that (i) rapidly reduces core borderline symptoms like suicidal behavior, (ii) minimizes the negative effects of an inpatient setting, and (iii) enhances compliance with outpatient treatment. We evaluate the (cost-) effectiveness of this experimental program.

Methods/design

Seventy patients, aged 18 to 45 years with a primary diagnosis of BPD, showing a chronic pattern of parasuicidal gestures and/or reporting high degrees of severity of other borderline symptoms, are randomly allocated to the control and intervention groups. Subjects in the control group receive standard outpatient DBT, provided in one of three regular mental health settings in GGZ Rivierduinen. Subjects in the intervention group receive 12 weeks of intensified inpatient DBT plus six months of standard DBT, provided in the Center for Personality Disorders Jelgersma. The primary outcome is the number of suicide attempts/self-harming acts. Secondary outcomes are severity of other borderline complaints, quality of life, general psychopathological symptoms and health care utilization and productivity costs. Data are gathered using a prospective, two (group: intervention and control) by five (time of measurement) repeated measures factorial design.

Participants will complete three-monthly outcome assessments in the course of therapy: at baseline, and 12, 24, 36 and 52 weeks after the start of the treatment. The period of recruitment started in March 2012 and the study will end in December 2014.

Discussion

Highly suicidal outpatient patients can pose a dilemma for mental health care professionals. Although hospitalization seems inevitable under some circumstances, it has proven to be harmful in its own right. This paper outlines the background and methods of a randomized trial evaluating the possible surplus value of a short-term inpatient DBT program.

Keywords:
Borderline Personality Disorder; Suicidal behavior; Self-harming behavior; Dialectical Behavior Therapy; Inpatient treatment