Although the term borderline personality disorder (BPD) is used to describe adolescents in clinical settings, there is confusion as to what it comprises. To further elucidate that diagnosis, this article reviews its construct validity.
Relevant publications appearing in PsychInfo (1872 to present) were reviewed for the purposes of this article.
Thirty-six of the approximately sixty-five publications selected for consideration were included in this review.
The construct validity of adolescent BPD is supported by internal consistency (comparable to that of adults), group differences (ie this diagnosis segregates BPD from non-BPD adolescents), convergent validity (ie multiple measures of this disorder measure the same pathology) and concurrent validity, whereby these youth manifest functional impairment and distress. By contrast, the adolescent BPD criteria manifest less construct validity than the adult diagnosis in that its criteria did not uniformly predict the overall diagnosis, and showed more criterion overlap with other personality disorders and a broader pattern of axis II comorbidity. Further diminishing its construct validity, factor analysis suggested that adolescent BPD was not a single entity, and its low predictive validity was demonstrated by little diagnostic stability through adolescence into adulthood.