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Sexual assault and psychosis in two large general population samples: is childhood and adolescence a developmental window of sensitivity?

journal contribution
posted on 10.02.2022, 16:56 authored by Kathryn YatesKathryn Yates, Ulla Lång, Evyn M Peters, Johanna TW Wigman, Fiona McNicholas, Mary CannonMary Cannon, Jordan DeVylder, Hans Oh, Ian KelleherIan Kelleher

Background: Research has shown a strong relationship between psychosis and sexual assault. Theories on developmental trauma as a causal factor for psychosis suggest that exposure to sexual trauma in childhood would have a stronger association with psychosis than sexual trauma in adulthood. We hypothesized that exposure to sexual trauma earlier in childhood and adolescence would be more strongly associated with hallucinations, delusional beliefs and psychotic disorder than sexual trauma that occurred later in life.

Methods: Using the 2007 and 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys (N = 14,949) we calculated the prevalence of sexual assault, hallucinations, delusional beliefs, and psychotic disorder. We used logistic regression to examine the relationship between age of exposure to sexual assault (first exposure <16 vs first exposure ≥16) and odds of hallucinations, delusions, and psychotic disorder.

Results: Sexual assault at any age was associated with an increased odds of hallucinations (aOR = 2.00, 95%CI = 1.63-2.46), delusional beliefs (aOR = 2.55, 95%CI = 2.24-2.89) and psychotic disorder (aOR = 5.28, 95%CI = 3.59-7.76). There was no significant difference, however, in the prevalence of hallucinations, delusional beliefs or psychotic disorders in individuals first exposed to sexual assault <16 and individuals first exposed ≥16.

Conclusions: Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find evidence that exposure to sexual assault in childhood and adolescence was more strongly associated with hallucinations, delusional beliefs or psychotic disorder than exposure to sexual assault age >16. Our findings do not support the idea that childhood and adolescence are uniquely sensitive periods for the emergence of psychotic experiences or psychotic disorder in relation to sexual trauma.

Funding

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 Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Veni grant no. 016.156.019

History

Comments

The original article is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/

Published Citation

Yates K. et al. Sexual assault and psychosis in two large general population samples: is childhood and adolescence a developmental window of sensitivity? Schizophr Res. 2022;241:78-82

Publication Date

26 January 2022

PubMed ID

35091390

Department/Unit

  • Beaumont Hospital
  • Psychiatry

Research Area

  • Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders

Publisher

Elsevier BV

Version

  • Accepted Version (Postprint)