Childhood trauma and psychotic disorders: A systematic, critical review of the evidence

ORYGEN Research Centre, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Victoria 3056, Australia.
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.61). 06/2008; 34(3):568-79. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbm121
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There is controversy over whether childhood trauma (CT) is a causal factor in the development of psychosis. This review aims to identify and critically analyze the association between CT and psychotic disorders. Studies investigating CT and psychotic disorder were identified by searches of electronic databases and manual searches of references lists, and 46 studies were identified. Forty studies had no control group, only psychiatric control groups, or unmatched, nonpopulation control groups and thus had methodologies that were inadequate to determine the relationship between CT and psychosis. Six studies used appropriate control groups. Three studies found an association between CT and psychosis, 2 found potentially real associations that failed to reach statistical significance, and 1 found no association, tentatively suggesting a relationship between CT and psychotic disorders. Several methodological problems were found in the studies in the review, including the highest quality studies, which limit the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn from them. These were lack of statistical power, lack of attention to moderating or mediating variables, the way in which CT was measured, and the use of cross-sectional research designs. These problems, some of which may be unavoidable in CT research, suggest the need for new and innovative methodologies in the investigation of CT and psychosis. Directions for further research are explored.

Download full-text


Available from: Henry Jackson, Aug 21, 2015
  • Source
    • "The prevalence rate of traumatic events in UHR patients was estimated based on a meta-analysis. Following evidence from studies in clinical samples (Bendall et al., 2008; Beards et al., 2013), we hypothesized that childhood trauma and recent life events would be significantly more prevalent in UHR patients than in healthy controls. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Childhood trauma and recent life-events have been related to psychotic disorders. The aim of the present study was to examine whether childhood trauma and recent life-events are significantly more prevalent in patients at Ultra High Risk (UHR) of developing a psychotic disorder compared to healthy controls. A search of PsychInfo and Embase was conducted, relevant papers were reviewed, and three random-effects meta-analyses were performed. One meta-analysis assessed the prevalence rate of childhood trauma in UHR subjects and two meta-analyses were conducted to compare UHR subjects and healthy control subjects on the experience of childhood trauma and recent life-events. We found 12 studies on the prevalence of (childhood) trauma in UHR populations and 4 studies on recent life-events in UHR populations. We performed a meta-analysis on 6 studies (of which trauma prevalence rates were available) on childhood trauma in UHR populations, yielding a mean prevalence rate of 86.8% (95% CI 77%-93%). Childhood trauma was significantly more prevalent in UHR subjects compared to healthy control groups (Random effects Hedges' g=1.09; Z=4.60, p<.001). In contrast to our hypothesis, life-event rates were significantly lower in UHR subjects compared to healthy controls (Random effects Hedges' g=-0.53; Z=-2.36, p<.02). Our meta-analytic results illustrate that childhood trauma is highly prevalent among UHR subjects and that childhood trauma is related to UHR status. These results are in line with studies on childhood trauma in psychotic populations. In contrast to studies on recent life-events in psychotic populations, our results show that recent life-events are not associated with UHR status. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Schizophrenia Research 02/2015; 161:143-149. DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2014.11.026 · 4.43 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Psychosis has been linked with a history of adverse life events (Read et al., 2005; Morgan et al., 2007; Bendall et al., 2008; Bebbington et al., 2011; Fisher et al., 2010; Varese et al., 2012). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Traumatic experiences have been positively associated with both severity of attenuated psychotic symptoms in individuals at high risk (HR) for psychosis and transitions into psychotic disorders. Our aim was to determine what characteristics of the trauma history are more likely to be associated with individuals at HR. The Trauma History Screen was used to enable emphasis on number and perceived intensity of adverse life events and age at trauma exposure. Sixty help-seeking individuals who met HR criteria were compared to a random sample of 60 healthy volunteers. Both groups were aged 16–35 and resided in the same geographical location. HR participants experienced their first trauma at an earlier age, continued to experience trauma at younger developmental stages, especially during early/mid adolescence and were exposed to a high number of traumas. They were more depressed and anxious, but did not experience more distress in relation to trauma. Both incidences of trauma and age at which trauma occurred were the most likely predictors of becoming HR. This work emphasises the importance of assessing trauma characteristics in HR individuals to enable differentiation between psychotic-like experiences that may reflect dissociative responses to trauma and genuine prodromal psychotic presentations.
    Psychiatry Research 12/2014; 220(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.08.028 · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "However, evidence of the link with the spectrum of psychotic disorders has been inconsistent (Morgan and Fisher, 2007) and specificity for schizophrenia relative to other psychiatric disorders has not been clearly demonstrated (Chen et al., 2010). A review of 26 studies of clinical samples found that the prevalence of reported child abuse among individuals with a diagnosis of psychosis ranged between 28% and 73% (Bendall et al., 2008). Variability in prevalence may be due to methodological differences including the definition of child abuse employed, problems of recall bias in retrospectively collected data and reliance on small studies using diagnostically heterogeneous and chronic samples. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Child abuse has been associated with risk of mental illness, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders and, among those with mental illness, with a more severe clinical profile. Using an extensively characterised and epidemiologically representative sample of 1825 Australians with a psychotic illness aged 18-64 years and in contact with mental health services, we estimated the proportion of individuals with psychotic disorders who self-reported child abuse and examined its relationship with clinical and other characteristics. The prevalence of child abuse in this nationally representative sample of people with psychotic illness was 30.6%. Women were almost three times more likely to report child abuse compared to males (OR, 2.8, 95% CI 2.3-3.4). When adjusted for age at interview and socio-economic status, there was no significant relationship between self-reported child abuse and type of psychosis or course of illness. Participants with child abuse were significantly more likely to have subjective thought disorder, lifetime suicide attempt and premorbid personality disorder (females only) and anxiety (males only). Our findings demonstrate that child abuse is relatively common across the range of psychotic disorders, with an elevated risk for women in particular, compounding the already high burden associated with psychotic illness. Clinicians need to inquire routinely about child abuse in order to develop appropriate treatment plans tailored to individual needs.
    Schizophrenia Research 10/2014; 159(1). DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2014.07.011 · 4.43 Impact Factor
Show more