Correlates of delusion-like experiences in a non-psychotic community sample

Daniel Varghese, James Scott, John McGrath
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2008, 42 (6): 505-8

OBJECTIVE: Several large population-based studies have reported that otherwise-well individuals endorse items related to delusion-like experiences. The aim of the present study was to examine selected correlates of delusion-like experiences in a sample of non-psychotic individuals.

METHOD: Subjects (n=310) were screened with the Diagnostic Interview for Psychosis in order to exclude psychotic disorders. Delusion-like experiences were assessed with the Peters Delusional Inventory (PDI). Non-parametric statistics were used to assess the relationship between total PDI score and a range of demographic (age, sex, migrant status, paternal age), physical (minor physical anomalies) symptom-related variables (hallucinations, awareness of thought disorder) and family history of mental illness.

RESULTS: The median (range) PDI score was 4 (0-26), while one-third of the subjects endorsed seven or more items. The presence of a family history of any psychiatric condition was significantly correlated with a higher PDI score. PDI score was significantly positively correlated with endorsement of hallucinations and awareness of thought disorder. PDI was not significantly associated with sex, family history of schizophrenia, paternal age, migrant status nor scores related to minor physical anomalies. There was a trend level association between younger age and higher PDI score.

CONCLUSION: Delusion-like experiences are relatively common in non-psychotic individuals. The association with a family history of mental disorders provides clues to the mechanisms underlying the profile of delusion-like experience.

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