Psychotic experiences in the general population: a cross-national analysis based on 31 261 respondents from 18 countries

McGrath, John J., Saha, Sukanta, Al-Hamzawi, Ali, Alonso, Jordi, Bromet, Evelyn J., Bruffaerts, Ronny, Caldas-De-Almeida, Jose Miguel, Chiu, Wat Tat, de Jonge, Peter, Fayyad, John, Florescu, Silvia, Gureje, Oye, Haro, Josep Maria, Hu, Chiyi, Kovess-Masfety, Viviane, Lepine, Jean Pierre, Lim, Carmen C. W., Mora, Maria Elena Medina, Navarro-Mateu, Fernando, Ochoa, Susana, Sampson, Nancy, Scott, Kate, Viana, Maria Carmen and Kessler, Ronald C. (2015) Psychotic experiences in the general population: a cross-national analysis based on 31 261 respondents from 18 countries. JAMA Psychiatry, 72 7: 697-705. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0575

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Author McGrath, John J.
Saha, Sukanta
Al-Hamzawi, Ali
Alonso, Jordi
Bromet, Evelyn J.
Bruffaerts, Ronny
Caldas-De-Almeida, Jose Miguel
Chiu, Wat Tat
de Jonge, Peter
Fayyad, John
Florescu, Silvia
Gureje, Oye
Haro, Josep Maria
Hu, Chiyi
Kovess-Masfety, Viviane
Lepine, Jean Pierre
Lim, Carmen C. W.
Mora, Maria Elena Medina
Navarro-Mateu, Fernando
Ochoa, Susana
Sampson, Nancy
Scott, Kate
Viana, Maria Carmen
Kessler, Ronald C.
Title Psychotic experiences in the general population: a cross-national analysis based on 31 261 respondents from 18 countries
Journal name JAMA Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2168-622X
Publication date 2015-07-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0575
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 72
Issue 7
Start page 697
End page 705
Total pages 9
Place of publication Chicago, IL United States
Publisher American Medical Association
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Importance Community-based surveys find that many otherwise healthy individuals report histories of hallucinations and delusions. To date, most studies have focused on the overall lifetime prevalence of any of these psychotic experiences (PEs), which might mask important features related to the types and frequencies of PEs.

Objective To explore detailed epidemiologic information about PEs in a large multinational sample.

Design, Setting, and Participants We obtained data from the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys, a coordinated set of community epidemiologic surveys of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in representative household samples from 18 countries throughout the world, from 2001 through 2009. Respondents included 31 261 adults (18 years and older) who were asked about lifetime and 12-month prevalence and frequency of 6 types of PEs (2 hallucinatory experiences and 4 delusional experiences). We analyzed the data from March 2014 through January 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures Prevalence, frequency, and correlates of PEs.

Results Mean lifetime prevalence (SE) of ever having a PE was 5.8% (0.2%), with hallucinatory experiences (5.2% [0.2%]) much more common than delusional experiences (1.3% [0.1%]). More than two-thirds (72.0%) of respondents with lifetime PEs reported experiencing only 1 type. Psychotic experiences were typically infrequent, with 32.2% of respondents with lifetime PEs reporting only 1 occurrence and 31.8% reporting only 2 to 5 occurrences. We found a significant relationship between having more than 1 type of PE and having more frequent PE episodes (Cochran-Armitage z = −10.0; P < .001). Lifetime prevalence estimates (SEs) were significantly higher among respondents in middle- and high-income countries than among those in low-income countries (7.2% [0.4%], 6.8% [0.3%], and 3.2% [0.3%], respectively; χ22 range, 7.1-58.2; P < .001 for each) and among women than among men (6.6% [0.2%] vs 5.0% [0.3%]; χ21 = 16.0; P < .001). We found significant associations with lifetime prevalence of PEs in the multivariate model among nonmarried compared with married respondents (χ22 = 23.2; P < .001) and among respondents who were not employed (χ24 = 10.6; P < .001) and who had low family incomes (χ23 = 16.9; P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance The epidemiologic features of PEs are more nuanced than previously thought. Research is needed that focuses on similarities and differences in the predictors of the onset, course, and consequences of distinct PEs.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
Official 2016 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 19 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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