An 11-item measure to assess borderline traits in adolescents: Refinement of the BPFSC using IRT

Carla Sharp, Lynne Steinberg, Jeff Temple, Elizabeth Newlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Despite historical concerns about the validity of the construct of borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adolescence, there is now general consensus that BPD in adolescence constitutes a valid and reliable diagnosis. Yet the development and refinement of measures to assess borderline traits in adolescents is in its infancy. Moreover, brief and easy-to-administer measures of borderline traits for use in large-scale studies do not exist. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the Borderline Personality Features Scale for Children (BPFSC; Crick, Murray-Close, & Woods, 2005) and develop a short version of the BPFSC through the use of item response theory (IRT) methods. BPFSC data from a community sample of 964 adolescents (mean age = 15.1 years, SD =.79; 55.9% female) were used to examine the factor structure of the BPFSC. The hypothesized 4-factor structure was not supported. The unidimensional IRT analysis showed instances of local dependence among item pairs and item responses that were not strongly related to the underlying construct. As a consequence, items were eliminated, creating a unidimensional 11-item brief BPFSC (the BPFSC-11). Next, evidence of construct validity of scores based on the shortened version was evaluated using a different sample of 371 inpatient adolescents. We demonstrated similar indices of construct validity as observed for the BPFSC total score with the BPFSC-11 scores and found evidence for good criterion validity. Use of the BPFSC-11 in clinical settings will reduce the burden on respondents without loss of information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Borderline personality features
  • Factor analysis
  • Item response theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'An 11-item measure to assess borderline traits in adolescents: Refinement of the BPFSC using IRT'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this