Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review Assessing the Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Patrick T. Panos, John W. Jackson, Omar Hasan, Angelea Panos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objective was to quantitatively and qualitatively examine the efficacy of DBT (e.g., decreasing life-threatening suicidal and parasuicidal acts, attrition, and depression) explicitly with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and using conservative assumptions and criteria, across treatment providers and settings. Method: Five randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were identified in a systematic search that examined the efficacy of DBT in reducing suicide attempts, parasuicidal behavior, attrition during treatment, or symptoms of depression, in adult patients with BPD. Results: Combining effect measures for suicide and parasuicidal behavior (five studies total) revealed a net benefit in favor of DBT (pooled Hedges' g -0.622). DBT was only marginally better than treatment as usual (TAU) in reducing attrition during treatment in five RCTs (pooled risk difference -0.168). DBT was not significantly different from TAU in reducing depression symptoms in three RCTs (pooled Hedges' g -0.896). Discussion: DBT demonstrates efficacy in stabilizing and controlling self-destructive behavior and improving patient compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • TAU
  • adults
  • attrition
  • borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • evidence-based practice
  • field of practice
  • mental health
  • meta-analysis
  • methodological article
  • outcome study
  • population
  • randomized controlled trial (RCT)
  • suicide prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)


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