Ethnic minority status and childhood trauma are established risk factors for psychotic disorders. Both are found to be associated with increased level of positive symptoms, in particular auditory hallucinations. Our main aim was to investigate the experience and effect of childhood trauma in patients with psychosis from ethnic minorities, hypothesizing that they would report more childhood trauma than the majority and that this would be associated with more current and lifetime hallucinations.
In this cross-sectional study we included 454 patients with a SCID-I DSM-IV diagnosis of non-affective or affective psychotic disorder. Current hallucinations were measured with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (P3; Hallucinatory Behaviour). Lifetime hallucinations were assessed with the SCID-I items: auditory hallucinations, voices commenting and two or more voices conversing. Childhood trauma was assessed with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, self-report version.
Patients from ethnic minority groups (n = 69) reported significantly more childhood trauma, specifically physical abuse/neglect, and sexual abuse. They had significantly more current hallucinatory behaviour and lifetime symptoms of hearing two or more voices conversing. Regression analyses revealed that the presence of childhood trauma mediated the association between ethnic minorities and hallucinations.
More childhood trauma in ethnic minorities with psychosis may partially explain findings of more positive symptoms, especially hallucinations, in this group. The association between childhood trauma and these first-rank symptoms may in part explain this group's higher risk of being diagnosed with a schizophrenia-spectrum diagnosis. The findings show the importance of childhood trauma in symptom development in psychosis.
Social anxiety is a common problem in psychotic disorders. The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, Self-Rating version (LSAS-SR) is a widely used instrument to capture different aspects of social anxiety, but its psychometric properties have not been tested in this patient group. The aims of the present study were to evaluate the psychometric properties of the LSAS-SR in patients with first episode psychosis, to investigate whether it differentiated between active and passive social withdrawal and to test which clinical factors contributed to current level of social anxiety.
A total of 144 first episode psychosis patients from the ongoing Thematically Organized Psychosis (TOP) study were included at the time of first treatment. Diagnoses were set according to the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID-1) for DSM-IV. A factor analysis was carried out and the relationship of social anxiety to psychotic and general symptomatology measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) was evaluated. Possible contributors to social anxiety were analyzed using multiple hierarchic regression analysis.
The factor analysis identified three subscales: public performance, social interaction and observation. All three subscales showed satisfactory psychometric properties, acceptable convergent and discriminate properties, and confirmed previous findings in social anxiety samples. Self-esteem explained a significant amount of the variance in social anxiety, even after adjusting for the effects of delusions, suspiciousness and depression.
The study shows that the LSAS-SR can be used in this patient group, that social anxiety is strongly related to both behavioral social avoidance and to self-esteem. The results support the use of this measure in assessment of social anxiety in both clinical settings and in research.