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The experiences of people with borderline personality disorder admitted to acute psychiatric inpatient wards: a meta-synthesis

Stapleton, Anna; Wright, Nicola


Anna Stapleton


Background: Acute psychiatric inpatient care is recommended for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to manage a crisis. Qualitative research exploring service user experience is valuable for the development of evidence-based treatment guidelines.
Aim: To conduct a meta-synthesis of qualitative research exploring the experiences of people with BPD on acute psychiatric inpatient wards.
Methods: Literatures searches of five electronic databases. Data were analysed using a three stage theme identification process.
Results: Eight primary studies and three first-hand accounts met the inclusion criteria. Four overarching themes were found to explain the data: contact with staff and fellow inpatients; staff attitudes and knowledge; admission as a refuge; and the admission and discharge journey.
Conclusions: Similar experiences of acute psychiatric inpatient care were reported by people with BPD across the studies. Opportunities to be listened to and to talk to staff and fellow inpatients, time-out from daily life and feelings of safety and control were perceived as positive elements of inpatient care. Negative experiences were attributed to: a lack of contact with staff, negative staff attitudes, staff’s lack of knowledge about BPD, coercive involuntary admission
and poor discharge planning.


Stapleton, A., & Wright, N. (2017). The experiences of people with borderline personality disorder admitted to acute psychiatric inpatient wards: a meta-synthesis. Journal of Mental Health, 28(4), 1-15.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 7, 2017
Publication Date Jul 6, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 13, 2018
Publicly Available Date Dec 13, 2018
Journal Journal of Mental Health
Print ISSN 0963-8237
Electronic ISSN 1360-0567
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 1-15
Keywords borderline personality disorder; acute psychiatric; meta-synthesis; qualitative; systematic review; lived experience; inpatient; narrative accounts; health services research; crisis intervention
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Mental Health on 07.07.2018, available online: