Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 39, Issue 10, pp 765–776

Personality disorders in the community: Results from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being Part III

Relationships between specific type of personality disorder, Axis 1 mental disorders and physical conditions with disability and health consultations

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-004-0821-x

Cite this article as:
Jackson, H.J. & Burgess, P.M. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2004) 39: 765. doi:10.1007/s00127-004-0821-x



The aim of the present study was to examine in a national survey sample the risks of having a specific personality disorder (PD) and associations with gender, of having one or more physical conditions, of having one or more Axis 1 conditions, and of the severity (or degree) of disability. We also examined the association of specific PDs with having sought a consultation for health or mental health problems with a general practitioner (GP), a psychologist, or psychiatrist over the past 12 months.


Data were derived from the Australian National Mental Health and Well-Being Survey, conducted between May and August 1997. A stratified random sample of households was generated, from which all persons aged 18 or over were considered potential interviewees. There were 10,641 survey respondents, this representing a response rate of 78%. Each interviewee was asked 59 questions indexing specific ICD-10 PD criteria.


Logistic regressions identified that some specific PDs, especially borderline PD, were more strongly associated with having one or more Axis I conditions, greater mental disability and lost days of total and partial role functioning than having No PD, and that others, notably anankastic PD, were less likely to be associated with the same variables. Some specific PDs, again most notably borderline PD, were more associated than others, again most notably anankastic PD, with having sought mental health consultations from GPs, psychiatrists, and psychologists. By contrast, PD associations with gender, physical conditions, physical disability and health consultations with the three professional groups were weaker as reflected in the comparatively smaller odds ratios and were also less consistent than the pattern with the previously mentioned variables.


The study reports findings from a nationwide survey and, as such, the data are less influenced by the selection and setting bias found in most other studies investigating these variables. The findings of the study do point to some specific PDs, such as borderline PD, being associated with greater Axis 1 psychopathology, disability and mental health consultations than others, such as anankastic PD. It appears that although anankastic PD in itself is associated with more disability than having No PD, it becomes significantly more disabling when it is associated with other comorbid PDs.

Key words

specific personality disorders epidemiological studies physical disorders mental disorders disability mental health and health consultations 

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health SciencesUniversity of MelbourneParkville, 3010,VictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.Mental Health Research Institute of VictoriaParkville (Victoria)Australia
  3. 3.Dept. of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of MedicineMonash UniversityClayton (Victoria)Australia
  4. 4.Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health SciencesThe University of MelbourneParkville (Victoria)Australia

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