Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

New Screening Method for Personality Disorder

Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

New Screening Method for Personality Disorder

Article excerpt

Although personality disorders can cause long-term suffering and disability, they are difficult to detect. As a result, many people go untreated.

A new screening procedure, developed at Cornell University Medical College and tested at Cornell University in Ithaca, coupled with a follow-up interview, reliably identified persons with personality pathology with a self-administered true-false questionnaire. In the second stage, those identified with possible personality disorders are interviewed by a professional clinician to confirm or discount an actual personality diagnosis, reports Mark Lenzenweger, associate professor of human development and a clinical psychologist and psychopathology researcher.

In tests, no cases of definite personality pathology were missed by this two-stage procedure, and the researchers believe that it may help reduce the number of professional interviews required for diagnosis by about one-half in large-scale epidemiological studies.

Based on their second-stage study of 258 individuals, Lenzenweger and his colleagues estimated that 11 percent of their nonclinical population had a diagnosable personality disorder, a rate consistent with previous "best-guess" estimates.

"Whereas researchers have a good grasp of the epidemiology for most other major mental disorders, we still don't have good estimates for personality disorders because their diagnosis requires considerable, and costly, clinical sophistication," says Lenzenweger, director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychopathology at Cornell and an associate professor of psychology in psychiatry at the Cornell University Medical College in New York City.

"This is the first time we have hard data on just how prevalent personality disorders are in a nonclinical population," adds Lenzenweger. …

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