The role of social problem solving in improving social functioning in therapy for adults with personality disorder
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Objectives In a previous study, adults with personality disorder who were treated with psychoeducation and social problem-solving therapy improved in social functioning. The purpose of this paper is to examine in more detail the role of social problem solving in effecting change in that study. The hypotheses are that there will be improvements in social problem solving after therapy, and that these improvements will predict change in social functioning. Design An examination of pre- to post-intervention changes on a psychometric measure of social problem solving, and the relationship of change scores to improvements on a measure of social functioning. Method Data on 93 community-dwelling adults with personality disorder who completed treatment were examined. Pre- and post-treatment scores on the Social Problem Solving Inventory-Revised (SPSI-R) and the Social Functioning Questionnaire (SFQ) were examined using repeated measures t-tests. SPSI-R scale change scores were examined in relation to their prediction of change on the SFQ in regression analyses. Results The mean pre- to post-treatment changes were positive on all SPSI-R scales and the SFQ. In regression analysis, after controlling for pre-treatment SFQ scores, change on the SPSI-R total score predicted change on the SFQ. Of the SPSI-R subscales, change in Negative Problem Orientation (NPO) was the sole predictor of change on SFQ. Conclusions This study supports the hypothesis that, when social problem-solving therapy for people with personality disorder works, it does so by improving their social problem-solving ability. Specifically, social problem-solving therapy may be effective by reducing NPO, and thereby improving social functioning. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.