What are the psychological factors that may mediate the relationship between childhood trauma and later positive symptoms of psychosis?

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology


Aims: Childhood trauma (CT) is increasingly recognised as a potential risk factor for the development of positive symptoms of psychosis. As a result, studies are beginning to investigate potential psychological factors that may mediate this relationship. This review sought to identify, summarise and critically evaluate studies that investigated psychological factors as mediating processes between CT and positive symptoms in people with psychosis. Method: The following computerised databases were searched up to March 2015; ISI Web of Science, PsychInfo and Pubmed. These were supplemented with manual searches. After screening, papers relevant to the review question were examined in more detail and quality assessment ratings were completed.
Results: A total of 44 papers were identified comprising 10,161 participants. Two papers examined anomalous experiences, 2 attachment, 2 theory of mind (ToM), 9 neurocognitive functioning, 7 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 22 dissociation. Quality varied across studies and some frequent methodological limitations were identified.
Conclusion: There is some evidence to support a mediating role of dissociative experiences and attachment anxiety in the relationship between CT and positive symptoms. It is not possible to draw conclusions concerning the other factors under review. Future research should aim to address methodological limitations of existing studies and should consider multiple factors within a single sample.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorElaine Hunter (Supervisor), Amy Hardy (Supervisor) & Emmanuelle Peters (Supervisor)

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