Objective: Despite scientific evidence of effectiveness, psychotherapy for personality disorders is not yet fully deployed, nor is its reimbursement self-evident. Both clinicians and health care policy-makers increasingly rely on evidence-based medicine and health economics when determining a treatment of choice and reimbursement. This article aims to contribute to that understanding by applying these criteria on psychotherapy as a treatment for patients with personality disorder. Method: We have evaluated the available empirical evidence on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, and integrated this with “necessity of treatment” as a moderating factor. Results: The effectiveness of psychotherapy for personality disorders is well documented with favourable randomized trial results, 2 metaanalyses, and a Cochrane review. However, the evidence does not yet fully live up to modern standards of evidence-based medicine and is mostly limited to borderline and avoidant personality disorder. Data on cost-effectiveness suggests that psychotherapy for personality disorders may lead to cost-savings. However, state-of-the-art cost-effectiveness data are still scarce. An encouraging factor is that the available studies indicate that patients with personality disorder experience a high burden of disease, stressing the necessity of treatment. Conclusions: When applying an integrated vision on outcome, psychotherapy can be considered not only an effective treatment for patients with personality disorder but also most likely a cost-effective and necessary intervention. However, more state-of-the-art research is required before clinicians and health care policy decision makers will fully appreciate the benefits of psychotherapy for personality disorders. Considerable progress is possible if researchers focus their efforts on evidence-based medicine and cost-effectiveness research.

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The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bartak, A, Soeteman, D.I, Verheul, R, & van Busschbach, J.J. (2007). Strengthening the Status of Psychotherapy for Personality Disorders: An Integrated Perspective on Effects and Costs. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 1–27. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/22859