Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Borderline personality disorder-Diagnosis, Post-traumatic stress disorder-Diagnosis, Psychotherapists-Attitudes, Stigma (Social psychology), Sex discrimination in psychology, Attitudes, Gender bias, Diagnosis


The purpose of the current study was to investigate mental health clinicians' diagnostic assessments of individuals who have features associated with both Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the effect of gender on their assessments, and associated attitudes. Recruitment resulted in a participant sample of 38 mental health clinicians who completed the survey in its entirety. Most of the participants identified as white (71.2%), were female (61.5%), worked in a community mental health center setting (76.9%) and had their LCSW (25%) or MA/MS in counseling (28.8%). Three surveys were evenly distributed between potential participants and each included a vignette describing an individual with features consistent with BPD and PTSD which differed only in gender; male, female, or no gender pronouns. The vignette was followed by an adapted form of the Attitude Towards Personality Disorder Questionnaire created by Bowers and Allen (2006) to assess participant attitudes to the individual they had diagnosed. Because of the small sample size, significance of the findings for diagnosis provision across vignettes could not be determined, though participants diagnosed the vignettes primarily with BPD or PTSD in similar frequencies. Findings from the APDQ indicated more negative attitudes towards individuals diagnosed with BPD than other diagnoses. Implications for further research include replicating the current study with a larger sample size. Indications for clinical practice are also discussed relating to pervasive negative attitudes towards BPD and the interaction of these attitudes with stigma, gender bias, and within clinical relationships.




iv, 92 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 57-60)