Hallucinations in the general population across the adult lifespan: prevalence and psychopathologic significance
Background: Community studies have found a relatively high prevalence of hallucinations, which are associated with a range of (psychotic and non-psychotic) mental disorders, as well as with suicidal ideation and behaviour. The literature on hallucinations in the general population has largely focused on adolescents and young adults.
Aims: We aimed to explore the prevalence and psychopathologic significance of hallucinations across the adult lifespan.
Method: Using the 1993, 2000, 2007 and 2014 cross-sectional Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey series (N = 33 637), we calculated the prevalence of past-year hallucinations in the general population ages 16 to ≥90 years. We used logistic regression to examine the relationship between hallucinations and a range of mental disorders, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
Results: The prevalence of past-year hallucinations varied across the adult lifespan, from a high of 7% in individuals aged 16-19 years, to a low of 3% in individuals aged ≥70 years. In all age groups, hallucinations were associated with increased risk for mental disorders, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, but there was also evidence of significant age-related variation. In particular, hallucinations in older adults were less likely to be associated with a cooccurring mental disorder, suicidal ideation or suicide attempt compared with early adulthood and middle age.
Strategic Academic Recruitment (StAR) award from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
European Research Council Consolidator Award (724809, iHEAR)
Irish Health Research Board (ECSA-2020-05)
St John of God Research Foundation clg (project grant 2021)
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Veni grant no. 016.156.019
CommentsThis article has been published in a revised form in British Journal of Psychiatry https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2021.100. This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © copyright holder.
Published CitationYates K. et al. Hallucinations in the general population across the adult lifespan: prevalence and psychopathologic significance. Br J Psychiatry. 2021;219(6):652-658
Publication Date12 July 2021
- Beaumont Hospital
- Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
- Population Health and Health Services
PublisherCambridge University Press
- Accepted Version (Postprint)