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.
Many studies have shown associations between a history of childhood trauma and more severe or complex clinical features of bipolar disorders (BD), including suicide attempts and earlier illness onset. However, the psychopathological mechanisms underlying these associations are still unknown. Here, we investigated whether affective lability mediates the relationship between childhood trauma and the severe clinical features of BD.
A total of 342 participants with BD were recruited from France and Norway. Diagnosis and clinical characteristics were assessed using the Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS) or the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders (SCID-I). Affective lability was measured using the short form of the Affective Lability Scale (ALS-SF). A history of childhood trauma was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Mediation analyses were performed using the SPSS process macro.
Using the mediation model and covariation for the lifetime number of major mood episodes, affective lability was found to statistically mediate the relationship between childhood trauma experiences and several clinical variables, including suicide attempts, mixed episodes and anxiety disorders. No significant mediation effects were found for rapid cycling or age at onset.
Our data suggest that affective lability may represent a psychological dimension that mediates the association between childhood traumatic experiences and the risk of a more severe or complex clinical expression of BD.