The prevalence of personality disorder, its comorbidity with mental state disorders, and its clinical significance in community mental health teams

  • Giles Newton-Howes
  • Peter Tyrer
  • Katina Anagnostakis
  • Sylvia Cooper
  • Owen Bowden-Jones
  • Tim Weaver
Original Paper



Personality status is seldom assessed in community mental health teams except at a rudimentary level. This study challenges the assumption that this policy is either prudent or wise.


To measure the prevalence of personality disorder within community mental health teams and to investigate its relationship to mental state disorders and overall pathology.


A cross-sectional survey of 2,528 of 2,567 psychiatric patients (98.5%) managed by community mental health teams in four urban settings in the UK in which diagnoses of personality and mental state pathology were assessed separately. Of these, a sample of 400 was interviewed, with a 70.5% completion rate for more in depth information.


In total, 40% of all patients in secondary care suffered from at least one personality disorder. Regression modelling showed personality pathology accounted for a greater degree of global psychopathology than psychosis, alcohol or drug dependence, but was associated with anxiety disorders.


Comorbid personality pathology contributes greatly to overall psychopathology in secondary psychiatric care. It should be both recognised and managed.


Personality disorder Comorbidity Secondary care Prevalence 



This work was undertaken by the authors who received funding under the Department of Health’s Drug Misuse Research Initiative (Grant No: 1217194). The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the sponsors. The authors would like to express their gratitude to the funders for supporting this work.

Conflict of interest statement



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giles Newton-Howes
    • 1
  • Peter Tyrer
    • 1
  • Katina Anagnostakis
    • 2
  • Sylvia Cooper
    • 2
  • Owen Bowden-Jones
    • 3
  • Tim Weaver
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of MedicineImperial CollegeLondonUK
  2. 2.Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS TrustNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Central and North West London Mental Health NHS TrustLondonUK

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