Faculty Articles


Diagnosis and assessment of personality disorders in older adults: A critical review

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Journal of Personality Disorders






Personality disorders in older adults only recently were identified as significant clinical problems, with little empirical attention having been directed to this diagnostic classification. In light of the burgeoning population of older adults, clinicians and researchers are now beginning to recognize the importance of evaluating specific diagnostic and assessment strategies for such personality-disordered older adults. From our critical review of the extant literature, it is apparent that personality disorders traditionally have been underdiagnosed in older adults. Moreover, some of the diagnostic criteria in use appear to be inadequate for this population. In addition, failure to recognize the moderating impact of a characterological component to Axis I symptom presentation in older individuals may result in faulty treatment decision making. Appropriateness and utility of measures for evaluating personality disturbances in older adults are discussed, and comparisons between instruments are provided. Considerably more investigation in this area is warranted, and suggestions for future empirical work are outlined.

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