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The prevalence of psychotic experiences (PEs) is higher in low-and-middle-income-countries (LAMIC) than in high-income countries (HIC). Here, we examine whether this effect is explicable by measurement bias.
A community sample from 13 countries (N = 7141) was used to examine the measurement invariance (MI) of a frequently used self-report measure of PEs, the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE), in LAMIC (n = 2472) and HIC (n = 4669). The CAPE measures positive (e.g. hallucinations), negative (e.g. avolition) and depressive symptoms. MI analyses were conducted with multiple-group confirmatory factor analyses.
MI analyses showed similarities in the structure and understanding of the CAPE factors between LAMIC and HIC. Partial scalar invariance was found, allowing for latent score comparisons. Residual invariance was not found, indicating that sum score comparisons are biased. A comparison of latent scores before and after MI adjustment showed both overestimation (e.g. avolition, d = 0.03 into d = −0.42) and underestimation (e.g. magical thinking, d = −0.03 into d = 0.33) of PE in LAMIC relative to HIC. After adjusting the CAPE for MI, participants from LAMIC reported significantly higher levels on most CAPE factors but a significantly lower level of avolition.
Previous studies using sum scores to compare differences across countries are likely to be biased. The direction of the bias involves both over- and underestimation of PEs in LAMIC compared to HIC. Nevertheless, the study confirms the basic finding that PEs are more frequent in LAMIC than in HIC.
Prevalence estimates of autistic traits in individuals with psychotic disorders (PD) vary greatly and it is unclear whether individuals with a familial risk (FR) for psychosis have an increased propensity to display autistic traits. Furthermore, it is unknown whether the presence of comorbid autism traits disproportionally affects the cognitive and behavioral aspects of social functioning in PD.
In total, 504 individuals with PD, 587 unaffected siblings with FR, and 337 typical comparison (TC) individuals (16–50 years) were included. Autistic and psychotic traits were measured with the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE). Social cognition was assessed with the Picture Sequencing Task (PST) and social behavior with the Social Functioning Scale (SFS).
For PD 6.5% scored above AQ clinical cut-off (⩾32), 1.0% for FR, and 1.2% for TC. After accounting for age, sex, and IQ, the PD group showed significantly more autistic traits and alterations in social behavior and cognition, while FR and TC only displayed marginal differences. Within the PD group autistic traits were a robust predictor of social behavior and there were no interactions with positive psychotic symptoms.
Levels of autistic traits are substantially elevated in PD and have a profoundly negative association with social functioning. In contrast, autistic traits above the clinical cut-off are not elevated in those with FR, and only marginally on a dimensional level. These findings warrant specific clinical guidelines for psychotic patients who present themselves with autistic comorbidity to help address their social needs.
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