Protective factors for psychotic experiences amongst adolescents exposed to multiple forms of victimization

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Experiencing multiple types of victimization (poly-victimization) during adolescence is associated with the onset of psychotic experiences (such as hearing voices, having visions, or being extremely paranoid). However, many poly-victimized adolescents will not develop such subclinical phenomena and the factors that protect them are unknown. This study investigated whether individual, family, or community-level characteristics were associated with an absence of psychotic experiences amongst poly-victimized adolescents. Participants were from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally-representative cohort of 2232 UK-born twins. Exposure to seven different types of victimization between ages 12-18 was ascertained using a modified version of the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire at age 18. Adolescents were also interviewed about psychotic experiences at age 18. Protective factors were measured at ages 12 and 18. We found that exposure to poly-victimization during adolescence was associated with age-18 psychotic experiences (OR=4.62, 95% CI 3.59-5.94, P<0.001), but more than a third of the poly-victimized adolescents reported having no psychotic experiences (40.1%). Greater social support was found to be protective against adolescent psychotic experiences even amongst those exposed to poly-victimization. Engaging in physical activity and greater neighborhood social cohesion were also associated with a reduced likelihood of age-18 psychotic experiences in the whole sample, with non-significant trends in the poly-victimized group. Increasing social support and promoting physical activity appear to be important areas for future research into the development of preventive interventions targeting adolescent psychotic experiences. This adds further weight to calls to increase the promotion of these factors on a public health scale. Keywords: Adolescence; exercise; poly-victimization; psychosis; resilience; social support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
JournalJournal of psychiatric research
Early online date12 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


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