International Journal of Mental Health Systems (Sep 2022)

Structural stigma and its impact on healthcare for borderline personality disorder: a scoping review

  • Pauline Klein,
  • A. Kate Fairweather,
  • Sharon Lawn

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 1
pp. 1 – 41


Read online

Abstract Background People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and their carers/families continue to experience structural stigma when accessing health services. Structural stigma involves societal-level conditions, cultural norms, and organizational policies that inhibit the opportunities, resources, and wellbeing of people living with attributes that are the object of stigma. BPD is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive psychosocial dysfunction including, problems regulating emotions and suicidality. This scoping review aimed to identify, map, and explore the international literature on structural stigma associated with BPD and its impact on healthcare for consumers with BPD, their carers/families, and health practitioners. Methods A comprehensive search of the literature encompassed MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and JBI Evidence-Based databases (from inception to February 28th 2022). The search strategy also included grey literature searches and handsearching the references of included studies. Eligibility criteria included citations relevant to structural stigma associated with BPD and health and crisis care services. Quality appraisal of included citations were completed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool 2018 version (MMAT v.18), the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Checklist for Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses Tool, and the AGREE II: advancing guideline development, reporting, and evaluation in health care tool. Thematic Analysis was used to inform data extraction, analysis, interpretation, and synthesis of the data. Results A total of 57 citations were included in the review comprising empirical peer-reviewed articles (n = 55), and reports (n = 2). Studies included quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, and systematic review designs. Review findings identified several extant macro- and micro-level structural mechanisms, challenges, and barriers contributing to BPD-related stigma in health systems. These structural factors have a substantial impact on health service access and care for BPD. Key themes that emerged from the data comprised: structural stigma and the BPD diagnosis and BPD-related stigma surrounding health and crisis care services. Conclusion Narrative synthesis of the findings provide evidence about the impact of structural stigma on healthcare for BPD. It is anticipated that results of this review will inform future research, policy, and practice to address BPD-related stigma in health systems, as well as approaches for improving the delivery of responsive health services and care for consumers with BPD and their carers/families. Review Registration: Open Science Framework ( ).