Clinical outcomes for sexual and gender minority adolescents in a dialectical behaviour therapy programme

Camp, J.; Durante, G.; Cooper, Andrew; Smith, Peter K. and Rimes, K. A.. 2024. Clinical outcomes for sexual and gender minority adolescents in a dialectical behaviour therapy programme. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, ISSN 1352-4658 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Sexuality and gender minoritised (SGM) adolescents are at increased risk of self-injury and suicide, and experience barriers to accessing mental health support. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is an effective treatment for self-injury and emotion dysregulation in adolescent populations, but few studies have published outcomes of DBT for SGM young people.

This study aimed to investigate treatment outcomes and completion for SGM adolescents and their cisgender and heterosexual peers, in the National & Specialist CAMHS, DBT service (UK).

Treatment completion, and opting out before and during treatment were examined for sexual and gender identity groups, as well as changes by the end of treatment in emotion dysregulation, self-injury, in-patient bed-days, emergency department attendances, and borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety symptoms.

SGM adolescents were over-represented in this service, even after considering their increased risk for self-injury. No statistically significant differences were found for treatment completion between the sexual orientation and gender identity groups, although there were patterns indicating possible lower treatment uptake and completion that warrant further investigation. Clinical outcomes for treatment-completers showed improvement by the end of DBT for each group, with few exceptions.

These results are from relatively small subsamples, and it was not possible to separate by sex assigned at birth. Findings should be treated tentatively and as early indications of effect sizes to inform future studies. This study suggests that DBT could be a useful treatment for SGM adolescents in a highly specialist treatment setting.

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Financial support. This project was supported financially by Health Education England/the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) via an Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, Pre-Doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship allocated to Dr Jake Camp (Award Identifier: NIHR302655). The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, National Health Service (NHS) or the UK Department of Health and Social Care.


Adolescents; DBT; Emotion dysregulation; LGBTQ+; Self-injury

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5 March 2024Accepted
8 April 2024Published Online

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Date Deposited:

14 May 2024 14:54

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2024 08:08

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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