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Risk and protective factors for psychotic experiences in adolescence: a population-based study

  • Elaine M. McMahon (a1) (a2), Paul Corcoran (a1) (a2), Helen Keeley (a3), Mary Clarke (a4) (a5), Helen Coughlan (a5), Danuta Wasserman (a6), Christina W. Hoven (a7), Vladimir Carli (a6), Marco Sarchiapone (a8), Colm Healy (a5) and Mary Cannon (a5) (a9) (a10)...



Psychotic experiences (PEs) are reported by a significant minority of adolescents and are associated with the development of psychiatric disorders. The aims of this study were to examine associations between PEs and a range of factors including psychopathology, adversity and lifestyle, and to investigate mediating effects of coping style and parental support on associations between adversity and PEs in a general population adolescent sample.


Cross-sectional data were drawn from the Irish centre of the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe study. Students completed a self-report questionnaire and 973 adolescents, of whom 522 (53.6%) were boys, participated. PEs were assessed using the 7-item Adolescent Psychotic Symptom Screener.


Of the total sample, 81 (8.7%) of the sample were found to be at risk of PEs. In multivariate analysis, associations were found between PEs and number of adverse events reported (OR 4.48, CI 1.41–14.25; p < 0.011), maladaptive/pathological internet use (OR 2.70, CI 1.30–5.58; p = 0.007), alcohol intoxication (OR 2.12, CI 1.10–4.12; p = 0.025) and anxiety symptoms (OR 4.03, CI 1.57–10.33; p = 0.004). There were small mediating effects of parental supervision, parental support and maladaptive coping on associations between adversity and PEs.


We have identified potential risk factors for PEs from multiple domains including adversity, mental health and lifestyle factors. The mediating effect of parental support on associations between adversity and PEs suggests that poor family relationships may account for some of this mechanism. These findings can inform the development of interventions for adolescents at risk.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Elaine McMahon, Email:


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Risk and protective factors for psychotic experiences in adolescence: a population-based study

  • Elaine M. McMahon (a1) (a2), Paul Corcoran (a1) (a2), Helen Keeley (a3), Mary Clarke (a4) (a5), Helen Coughlan (a5), Danuta Wasserman (a6), Christina W. Hoven (a7), Vladimir Carli (a6), Marco Sarchiapone (a8), Colm Healy (a5) and Mary Cannon (a5) (a9) (a10)...


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