Date of Conferral







Charles Diebold


Nurses often fear interacting with patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and use self-preservation distancing strategies that can exacerbate the BPD patient’s fear of abandonment, paranoia, self-harm, and relational conflict. Prior research identified individual predictors of nurses’ social distancing. This study used multivariable and multivariate correlational profiles of fear of violence and BPD bias that influence distance, reassessing, and constructive coping. Guided by social cognitive and appraisal transaction theories, data were collected from 113 nurses in a northwestern U.S. state on measures of interpersonal stress coping, attitudinal dispositions, perceived prevention of violence, perceived likelihood of future violence, and perceived coping ability. In regression analyses, fear of violence positively predicted all three coping types, threat to self negatively predicted reassessing and constructive coping, belief that those with BPD had impaired emotional capacities positively predicted distance and constructive coping, psychological treatment as useful negatively predicted reassessing and positively predicted constructive coping, and coping well if assaulted negatively predicted distance coping and positively predicted reassessing. Root 1 of a canonical correlation found nurses with high scores on distance and low scores on reassessing believed that (a) the BPD patient a threat to others, (b) BPD was caused by a stressful family environment (not by brain abnormalities), (c) thought psychological treatments effective, and (d) they (the nurse) would cope well if assaulted. Results may have positive social change implications in training and supervision of nurses and workplace safety protocols to improve safe interaction with and treatment outcomes for the BPD patient.