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The incidence of very late-onset psychotic disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis, 1960–2016

  • Jean Stafford (a1), Robert Howard (a1) and James B. Kirkbride (a1)


A substantial subset of people with psychotic disorders are first diagnosed in old age, yet little is known about the epidemiology of very late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis. We investigated the incidence of affective and non-affective psychotic disorders in those aged 65 and above, and examined variation related to potential risk factors via systematic literature review. We searched PubMed, PsychInfo, Web of Science and bibliographies and directly contacted authors to obtain citations published between 1960 and 2016 containing (derivable) incidence data. Cases were those diagnosed with non-organic psychotic disorders after age 65. Findings were presented narratively, and random-effects meta-analyses were used to obtain pooled incidence rates. From 5687 citations, 41 met inclusion criteria. The pooled incidence of: affective psychoses was 30.9 per 100 000 person-years at risk (100 kpy) [95% confidence interval (CI) 11.5–83.4; I2 = 0.99], and schizophrenia was 7.5 per 100 kpy (95% CI 6.2–9.1; I2 = 0.99), with some evidence of higher schizophrenia rates in women [odds ratio (OR) = 1.6; 95% CI 1.0–2.5, p = 0.05]. We found narrative evidence of increasing incidence rates of non-affective psychoses with age, and higher rates amongst migrants than baseline populations, but no evidence that incidence varied by study quality or case ascertainment period (quality OR = 1.04; 95% CI 0.74–1.48; time period OR = 1.00; 95% CI 0.95–1.05). Substantial heterogeneity in the incidence of very late-onset schizophrenia-like psychoses was observed. No identified studies examined possible risk factors which may account for such variation, including socio-economic status, sensory impairment, traumatic life events, or social isolation.


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Author for correspondence: Jean Stafford, E-mail:


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The incidence of very late-onset psychotic disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis, 1960–2016

  • Jean Stafford (a1), Robert Howard (a1) and James B. Kirkbride (a1)


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