Research suggests that psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in the general population are common, but can reflect either transitory or persistent developmental phenomena. Using a general adolescent population it was examined whether different developmental subtypes of PLEs exist and whether different trajectories of PLEs are associated with certain environmental risk factors, such as victimization and substance use.
Self-reported PLEs were collected from 409 adolescents (mean age 14 years 7 months) at four time points, each 6 months apart. General growth mixture modelling was utilized to identify classes of adolescents who followed distinct trajectories of PLEs across this period. Predictors of class membership included demographics, personality, victimization, depression, anxiety and substance use.
We identified the following three developmental subgroups of PLEs: (1) persistent; (2) increasing; (3) low. Adolescents on the persistent trajectory reported frequent victimization and consistent elevated scores in depression and anxiety. Adolescents on the increasing trajectory were engaging in cigarette use prior to any increases in PLEs and were engaging in cocaine, cannabis and other drug use as PLEs increased at later time points.
The findings suggest that different developmental subgroups of PLEs exist in adolescence and are differentially related to victimization and substance use.
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