Purpose: Excessive mortality has been seen in patients with personality disorder (PD), but it has not been well-studied when patients also have other psychiatric comorbidities. This study investigated the mortality rates and causes of death in an Asian cohort with PD. Method: We enrolled patients ≥ 18 years of age with PD as defined by DSM-IV criteria (N = 1172), who had been admitted to a psychiatric service center in northern Taiwan between 1985 and 2008. By linking with the national mortality database (1985–2008), cases of mortality (n = 156, 13.3%) were obtained. We calculated the standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) to estimate the mortality gap between patients with PD and the general population. Stratified analyses of mortality rates by Axis I psychiatric comorbidity and sex were performed. Results: Borderline PD (n = 391, 33.4%) was the dominant disorder among the subjects. The SMRs for all-cause mortality of PD alone, PD comorbid with non-substance use disorder(non-SUD), and PD comorbid with SUD were 4.46 (95% CI 1.94–6.98), 7.42 (5.99–8.85), and 15.96 (11.07–20.85), respectively. Among the causes of death, the SMR for suicide was the highest (46.92, 95% CI 34.29–59.56). The SMR for suicide in PD patients with comorbid SUD was unusually high (74.23, 95% CI 33.88-114.58). Women had a significant increase in suicide with an SMR of 59.00 (95% CI 37.89–80.11). Men had significant increase in SMRs for cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal disease. Conclusions: We found significant synergistic effects of PD and SUD on mortality risk. A personality assessment should be mandatory in all clinical settings to prevent premature death and detect SUD early.
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