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Self-reported psychotic symptoms in the general population: Results from the longitudinal study of the British National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

  • Nicola J. Wiles (a1), Stanley Zammit (a2), Paul Bebbington (a3), Nicola Singleton (a4), Howard Meltzer (a5) and Glyn Lewis (a6)...
Abstract
Background

Scarce longitudinal data exist on the occurrence of psychotic symptoms in the general population.

Aims

To estimate the incidence of, and risk factors for, self-reported psychotic symptoms in Great Britain.

Method

Data from the 18-month follow-up of a national survey were used. Incident cases were those who endorsed one or more items on the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire at follow-up, but not at baseline. The association between factors recorded at baseline and incident self-reported symptoms was examined.

Results

At follow-up, 4.4% of the general population reported incident psychotic symptoms. Six factors were independently associated with incident symptoms: living in a rural area; having a small primary support group; more adverse life events; smoking tobacco; neurotic symptoms; and engaging in a harmful pattern of drinking.

Conclusions

A small but not insignificant percentage of the population of Great Britain reported incident psychotic symptoms over 18 months. The risk factors for psychotic symptoms showed some similarities with risk factors for schizophrenia, but there were also some striking differences. The relationship between such risk factors and the factors that perpetuate psychotic symptoms remains to be ascertained.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Nicola J. Wiles, Academic Unit of Psychiatry, Department of Community Based Medicine, University of Bristol, The Grange, 1 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1AU, UK. Tel: +44(0)117 954 6676; fax: +(0)117 331 0964; e-mail: nicola.wiles@bristol.ac.uk
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Declaration of interest

None.

Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
References
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Self-reported psychotic symptoms in the general population: Results from the longitudinal study of the British National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

  • Nicola J. Wiles (a1), Stanley Zammit (a2), Paul Bebbington (a3), Nicola Singleton (a4), Howard Meltzer (a5) and Glyn Lewis (a6)...
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eLetters

Where do we go from here?

Dr Adil Y. Kadri, Psychiatrist
14 June 2006

Thanks to the authors for a very interesting study. A question that springs to mind is the relevance of the authors findings to current clinical practice. Do these individuals in the general population with self-reported psychotic symptoms need psychiatric follow-up and if so how urgently should they get the same as early intervention would result in better long-term prognosis. This would have to be addressed by an adaptation/expansion of current psychiatric services. Also it is possible that many of these these individuals are functioning 'normally' in the community and if this is the case do they then require medications/interventions from psychiatric services. One must also bear inmind that individuals themselves may not be keen to engage with psychiatric services. ... More

Conflict of interest: None Declared

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