Outcomes of therapeutic community treatment for personality disorder

Capone, Georgina; Schroder, Thomas; Clarke, Simon and Braham, Louise (2016). Outcomes of therapeutic community treatment for personality disorder. Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, 37(2) pp. 84–100.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/TC-12-2015-0025


The purpose of this paper is to review quantitative research since 1999 evaluating the effectiveness of democratic therapeutic community (DTC) treatment for individuals with personality disorders (PD) with reference to interpersonal and offending risk outcomes.

A systematic search resulted in the review of ten studies. All of the studies investigated DTCs treating PD in community, inpatient residential and forensic settings. Only peer-reviewed, English-language articles employing a quantitative design were included.

The majority of studies were conducted poorly and of low methodological quality, with limitations located in the representativeness of participants, limited use of control and comparison groups, follow up periods and controls for confounders. Heterogeneity remained in use of measures and limited consideration was given to the validity of interpersonal measures used. While improved interpersonal outcomes post DTC treatment were noted in forensic and residential settings, results were mixed in day and mini TC settings. Inconsistent findings in offending risk outcomes were also indicated. A study with increased methodological rigour indicated residential treatment had limited effects on interpersonal outcomes, when compared to combination treatment (residential TC and step-down treatment).

The study provided an evaluation of the limitations of DTC research across a range of settings and highlighted a combination of residential TC and step-down treatment may achieve superior outcomes to residential TC treatment alone in a community inpatient population. Recommendations are made for future research to contribute to the treatment of PD.

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