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Characterizing the experience of auditory verbal hallucinations and accompanying delusions in individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-433
Number of pages17
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number6
Early online date14 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


King's Authors


Objectives: The aim of the current study was to inform ongoing attempts to identify clinically meaningful subcategories of auditory verbal hallucination (AVH), and to evaluate evidence that might pertain to the suitability of current psychological interventions for people with bipolar disorder (BD) who experience psychotic symptoms. Methods: A comprehensive synthesis of findings on the phenomenology of AVH and delusions in BD is included, alongside a critical review of clinical and cognitive correlates. Studies published in the previous 20 years, until December 2016, were retrieved from the following databases: Embase, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Web of Science. Thirty-two articles were reviewed after applying a set of predetermined inclusion criteria. Results: Psychotic symptoms were common in both manic and depressive phases, although higher frequencies were indicated in mania. Few detailed characterizations of AVH phenomenology were identified. Delusions with persecutory, grandiose and referential themes were the most common in BD. AVHs were associated with delusions and there was evidence to suggest that delusion subtype may vary according to mood state and type of AVH. Data on clinical correlates of AVH in BD were sparse. However, the results indicated that cognitive appraisals or interpretations of voices might be different in BD from those established to be predictive of clinical outcomes in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Conclusions: Clear gaps exist in our current understanding of the first-person experience of AVH in BD and the potential relationship to co-occurring symptoms, including delusions. Further research into cognitive interpretations of AVH in BD might inform adapted psychological interventions for psychotic symptoms in this population.

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