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The association between sexual orientation and psychotic like experiences during adolescence: a prospective cohort study.

PURPOSE: Psychotic like experiences (PLEs) are relatively common during adolescence and associated with a range of negative outcomes. There is evidence that sexual minorities are at increased risk of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidality. However, no study has investigated the association between sexual orientation and psychotic experiences during adolescence. We compared trajectories of PLEs in sexual minority and heterosexual adolescents from 12 to 24 years of age.

METHODS: We used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Participants provided data on sexual orientation at age 16 and PLEs at ages 12, 17 and 24. We used multi-level logistic regression models to test associations between sexual orientation and PLEs, before and after adjusting for covariates. We investigated whether the association differed according to time-point and sex using interaction terms.

RESULTS: We found evidence that the odds of PLEs were 2.35 times (95% Confidence Interval 1.79-3.06, p < 0.0001) higher among sexual minority compared with heterosexual adolescents, across all ages, after adjusting for covariates. There was no evidence that the association between sexual orientation and PLEs differed according to time-point (p = 0.50) or sex (p = 0.29).

CONCLUSION: We found an increased risk of psychosis in sexual minorities compared with heterosexuals, which was present from around 12 years of age and persisted until age 24. Early interventions to prevent this mental health inequality could include universal interventions to promote inclusivity and acceptance of diverse sexual orientations.

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