Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Emotional and behavioural antecedents of young adults who screen positive for non-affective psychosis: a 21-year birth cohort study

  • J. Welham (a1), J. Scott (a2) (a3), G. Williams (a4), J. Najman (a4), W. Bor (a5), M. O'Callaghan (a4) and J. McGrath (a1) (a2) (a6)...

Birth cohort studies have shown that individuals who develop non-affective psychoses display subtle deviations in behaviour during childhood and adolescence. We had the opportunity to examine the widely used Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Youth Self-Report (YSR) to explore the antecedents of non-affective psychosis.


Based on a birth cohort of 3801 young adults, psychopathology was assessed at years 5 and 14 using the CBCL and/or the YSR. Screen-positive non-affective psychosis (SP-NAP) was assessed at year 21 by using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) or a self-report checklist. The association between childhood symptoms and SP-NAP was examined using logistic regression.


Of the cohort, 60 subjects were classified as SP-NAP. In males, SP-NAP was associated with higher scores: (a) on year 5 CBCL ‘Total’, ‘Aggression’ and ‘Social, Attention and Thought’ scores; (b) on year 14 CBCL ‘Social’, ‘Attention’ and ‘Delinquency’ scores, and (c) YSR ‘Total’ and many YSR subscores. These associations were less clear for females. Hallucinations at year 14 were associated with SP-NAP for both sexes. Boys with high ‘Total’ scores at both years 5 and 14 were at greatest risk of SP-NAP (a 5-fold risk), followed by boys and girls whose ‘Social, Attention and Thought’ scores either increased or remained high from years 5 to 14 (3- to 13-fold risk).


Individuals who screen positive for non-affective psychosis show increased psychopathology during childhood and adolescence. The psychopathological trajectory of children who go on to develop schizophrenia anticipates the heterogeneity associated with the full clinical syndrome.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Professor J. McGrath, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, Queensland 4076, Australia. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

TM Achenbach , L Dumenci (2001). Advances in empirically based assessment: revised cross-informant syndromes and new DSM-oriented scales for the CBCL, YSR, and TRF: comment on Lengua, Sadowksi, Friedrich, and Fischer (2001). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 69, 699702.

A Al Mamun , FV O'Callaghan , R Alati , M O'Callaghan , JM Najman , GM Williams , W Bor (2006). Does maternal smoking during pregnancy predict the smoking patterns of young adult offspring? A birth cohort study. Tobacco Control 15, 452457.

R Alati , A Al Mamun , GM Williams , M O'Callaghan , JM Najman , W Bor (2006). In utero alcohol exposure and prediction of alcohol disorders in early adulthood: a birth cohort study. Archives of General Psychiatry 63, 10091016.

R Alati , M O'Callaghan , JM Najman , GM Williams , W Bor , DA Lawlor (2005). Asthma and internalizing behavior problems in adolescence: a longitudinal study. Psychosomatic Medicine 67, 462470.

CE Bearden , IM Rosso , JM Hollister , LE Sanchez , T Hadley , TD Cannon (2000). A prospective cohort study of childhood behavioral deviance and language abnormalities as predictors of adult schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin 26, 395410.

W Bor , JM Najman , MJ Andersen , M O'Callaghan , GM Williams , BC Behrens (1997). The relationship between low family income and psychological disturbance in young children: an Australian longitudinal study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 31, 664675.

M Cannon , A Caspi , TE Moffitt , H Harrington , A Taylor , RM Murray , R Poulton (2002). Evidence for early-childhood, pan-developmental impairment specific to schizophreniform disorder: results from a longitudinal birth cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry 59, 449456.

M Cannon , E Walsh , C Hollis , M Kargin , E Taylor , RM Murray , PB Jones (2001). Predictors of later schizophrenia and affective psychosis among attendees at a child psychiatry department. British Journal of Psychiatry 178, 420426.

TJ Crow , DJ Done , A Sacker (1995). Childhood precursors of psychosis as clues to its evolutionary origins. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 245, 6169.

DJ Done , TJ Crow , EC Johnstone , A Sacker (1994). Childhood antecedents of schizophrenia and affective illness: social adjustment at ages 7 and 11. British Medical Journal 309, 699703.

L Erlenmeyer-Kimling , D Rock , SA Roberts , M Janal , C Kestenbaum , B Cornblatt , UH Adamo , II Gottesman (2000). Attention, memory, and motor skills as childhood predictors of schizophrenia-related psychoses: the New York High-Risk Project. American Journal of Psychiatry 157, 14161422.

DM Fergusson , LJ Horwood , MT Lynskey (1994). The comorbidities of adolescent problem behaviors: a latent class model. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 22, 339354.

MR Hayatbakhsh , R Alati , DM Hutchinson , K Jamrozik , JM Najman , AA Mamun , M O'Callaghan , W Bor (2007). Association of maternal smoking and alcohol consumption with young adults' cannabis use: a prospective study. American Journal of Epidemiology 166, 592598.

M Isohanni , GK Murray , J Jokelainen , T Croudace , PB Jones (2004). The persistence of developmental markers in childhood and adolescence and risk for schizophrenic psychoses in adult life. A 34-year follow-up of the Northern Finland 1966 birth cohort. Schizophrenia Research 71, 213225.

A Jablensky (2002). Research methods in psychiatric epidemiology: an overview. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 36, 297310.

P Jones , B Rodgers , R Murray , M Marmot (1994). Child development risk factors for adult schizophrenia in the British 1946 birth cohort. Lancet 344, 13981402.

S Kugelmass , N Faber , LJ Ingraham , E Frenkel , M Nathan , AF Mirsky , G Ben Shakhar (1995). Reanalysis of SCOR and anxiety measures in the Israeli High-Risk Study. Schizophrenia Bulletin 21, 205217.

KR Laurens , S Hodgins , B Maughan , RM Murray , ML Rutter , EA Taylor (2007). Community screening for psychotic-like experiences and other putative antecedents of schizophrenia in children aged 9–12 years. Schizophrenia Research 90, 130146.

DA Lawlor , JM Najman , GD Batty , MJ O'Callaghan , GM Williams , W Bor (2006). Early life predictors of childhood intelligence: findings from the Mater-University study of pregnancy and its outcomes. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 20, 148162.

A Malmberg , G Lewis , A David , P Allebeck (1998). Premorbid adjustment and personality in people with schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry 172, 308313.

JJ McGrath (2007). The surprisingly rich contours of schizophrenia epidemiology. Archives of General Psychiatry 64, 1416.

W Meeus , J Iedema , G Maassen , R Engels (2005). Separation–individuation revisited: on the interplay of parent–adolescent relations, identity and emotional adjustment in adolescence. Journal of Adolescence 28, 89106.

F Muratori , F Salvadori , G D'Arcangelo , V Viglione , L Picchi (2005). Childhood psychopathological antecedents in early onset schizophrenia. European Psychiatry 20, 309314.

LT Niemi , JM Suvisaari , JK Haukka , JK Lonnqvist (2005). Childhood predictors of future psychiatric morbidity in offspring of mothers with psychotic disorder: results from the Helsinki High-Risk Study. British Journal of Psychiatry 186, 108114.

DG Owens , P Miller , SM Lawrie , EC Johnstone (2005). Pathogenesis of schizophrenia: a psychopathological perspective. British Journal of Psychiatry 186, 386393.

J Perala , J Suvisaari , SI Saarni , K Kuoppasalmi , E Isometsa , S Pirkola , T Partonen , A Tuulio-Henriksson , J Hintikka , T Kieseppa , T Harkanen , S Koskinen , J Lonnqvist (2007). Lifetime prevalence of psychotic and bipolar I disorders in a general population. Archives of General Psychiatry 64, 1928.

ER Peters , SA Joseph , PA Garety (1999). Measurement of delusional ideation in the normal population: introducing the PDI (Peters et al. Delusions Inventory). Schizophrenia Bulletin 25, 553576.

R Poulton , A Caspi , TE Moffitt , M Cannon , R Murray , H Harrington (2000). Children's self-reported psychotic symptoms and adult schizophreniform disorder: a 15-year longitudinal study. Archives of General Psychiatry 57, 10531058.

A Rossi , R Pollice , E Daneluzzo , MG Marinangeli , P Stratta (2000). Behavioral neurodevelopment abnormalities and schizophrenic disorder: a retrospective evaluation with the Childhood Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Schizophrenia Research 44, 121128.

A Rossi , R Pollice , P Stratta , L Arduini , MG Marinangeli , E Daneluzzo (2002). Wisconsin Card-Sorting Test performance does not discriminate different patterns of premorbid behavioral abnormalities in schizophrenic patients. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 56, 403407.

W Rossler , A Riecher-Rossler , J Angst , R Murray , A Gamma , D Eich , J van Os , VA Gross (2007). Psychotic experiences in the general population: a twenty-year prospective community study. Schizophrenia Research 92, 114.

J Schiffman , E Walker , M Ekstrom , F Schulsinger , H Sorensen , S Mednick (2004). Childhood videotaped social and neuromotor precursors of schizophrenia: a prospective investigation. American Journal of Psychiatry 161, 20212027.

J van Os , P Jones , G Lewis , M Wadsworth , R Murray (1997). Developmental precursors of affective illness in a general population birth cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry 54, 625631.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 87 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 390 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.