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Psychotic experiences, psychiatric comorbidity and mental health need in the general population: a cross-sectional and cohort study in Southeast London

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2019


King's Authors


Co-occurrence of common mental disorders (CMD) with psychotic experiences is well-known. There is little research on the public mental health relevance of concurrent psychotic experiences for service use, suicidality, and poor physical health. We aim to: (1) describe the distribution of psychotic experiences co-occurring with a range of non-psychotic psychiatric disorders [CMD, depressive episode, anxiety disorder, probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality dysfunction], and (2) examine associations of concurrent psychotic experiences with secondary mental healthcare use, psychological treatment use for CMD, lifetime suicide attempts, and poor self-rated health.


We linked a prospective cross-sectional community health survey with a mental healthcare provider database. For each non-psychotic psychiatric disorder, patients with concurrent psychotic experiences were compared to those without psychotic experiences on use of secondary mental healthcare, psychological treatment for CMD, suicide attempt, physical functioning, and a composite multimorbidity score, using logistic regression and Cox regressions.

In all disorders except for anxiety disorder, concurrent psychotic experiences were accompanied by a greater odds of all outcomes (odds ratios) for a unit change in composite multimorbidity score ranged between 2.21 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49–3.27] and 3.46 (95% CI 1.52–7.85). Hazard ratios for secondary mental health service use for non-psychotic disorders with concurrent psychotic experiences, ranged from 0.53 (95% CI 0.15–1.86) for anxiety disorders with psychotic experiences to 4.99 (95% CI 1.22–20.44) among those with PTSD with psychotic experiences.

Co-occurring psychotic experiences indicate greater public mental health burden, suggesting psychotic experiences could be a marker for future preventive strategies improving public mental health.

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