Role of Borderline Personality Disorder in the Treatment of Military Sexual Trauma-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder with Cognitive Processing Therapy

Nicholas Holder, Ryan Holliday, Anushka Pai, Alina Surís

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is an effective evidence-based treatment for many, but not all, veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Understanding the factors that contribute to poorer response to CPT is important for providing the best care to veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Researchers investigating the effectiveness of CPT for individuals with comorbid personality symptoms have found that borderline personality disorder (BPD) characteristics do not negatively affect treatment outcome; however, participants in those studies were not diagnosed with BPD. The current pilot study investigated the effect of a BPD diagnosis on CPT dropout and outcomes. Data were compiled from a larger randomized clinical trial. Twenty-seven female veterans with military sexual trauma-related PTSD received CPT. Dropout was evaluated by treatment completion and number of sessions attended. Treatment outcome was assessed by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) and the PTSD Checklist (PCL). No significant differences were observed between veterans with and without BPD comorbidity for number of treatment sessions attended, and there was not a significant relationship between comorbidity status and treatment completion. A hierarchical linear modeling approach was used with BPD entered as a level 2 predictor of outcome. In our sample, veterans with BPD had higher PTSD symptom severity on the CAPS at baseline compared to veterans without BPD comorbidity. CPT was effective in reducing PTSD symptoms; however, BPD diagnosis did not influence treatment response over time on the CAPS or PCL. Our results provide initial support for the use of CPT in female veterans with MST-related PTSD and comorbid BPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017



  • borderline personality disorder
  • cognitive processing therapy
  • female veterans
  • military sexual trauma
  • posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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