Murdoch University has received almost $100,000 from Australian Rotary Health to lead the Australian arm of the largest psychological treatment study ever conducted in the world.
The research will investigate the best treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a condition as common as schizophrenia that affects about 200,000 people in Australia and about one million of their close friends and family.
Principal investigator and Murdoch Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Dr Chris Lee, said that 20 per cent of all inpatient beds in psychiatric hospitals are taken up by people with BPD and that for most their condition deteriorates once they are admitted.
“People with the condition show a number of symptoms including repetitive self harm, angry outbursts, sensitivity to abandonment, a confused sense of self and erratic moods,” Dr Lee said.
Dr Lee said BPD was a lethal condition with sufferers 1000 times more likely to commit suicide than a normal person in the general population.
“Whilst two thirds of people with BPD attempt suicide, one in ten kill themselves,” Dr Lee said.
“Combine that statistic with the fact that they have unstable and chronic relationship difficulties and BPD is not only traumatic for the sufferer but also for their friends and family.”
The research, which starts next week and will take two and a half years to complete, will test different types of group schema therapy, a treatment that proved successful when delivered in the United States and the Netherlands.
“Twenty years ago there was no treatment for BPD. Now there are a few different treatments, but we don’t know which ones are the most successful,” Dr Lee said.
“The study will take place internationally with treatment sites in Australia, the Netherlands, England, Sweden, US and Germany.
Murdoch University is partnering with Maastricht University in the Netherlands, the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and the South Metropolitan Area Health Service, Mental Health in this research.
Dr Lee, who has been training psychologists to treat BPD for the last 15 years, is one of eight experts on a BPD taskforce advising the Federal Minister for Mental Health on interventions and policy for the condition.