Traumatic life events as risk factors for psychosis and ICD-11 complex PTSD: A gender-specific examination

Grace W.K. Ho, Philip Hyland, Thanos Karatzias, Daniel Bressington, Mark Shevlin

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    Background: Numerous studies found robust associations between psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but few have examined the relationships between psychosis and recently formulated ICD-11 Complex PTSD (CPTSD). Further, no known study has examined the effects of different traumatic life events on CPTSD and psychotic-like symptoms in a manner that permits gender-specific effects to be identified. 

    Objective: Using a nationally representative sample of 1,020 Irish adults, we examined gender-differences in (a) psychotic-like symptoms, CPTSD, and exposure to 21 different traumatic life events, and (b) the unique associations between different traumas with CPTSD and Psychosis. 

    Method: Bivariate analyses and structural equation modelling were performed. 

    Results: Consistent with the literature, no gender differences were observed in psychotic-like symptoms. Females reported slightly higher levels of CPTSD and were more likely to be exposed to sexual and emotional abuse, whereas men reported greater exposure to physical violence, accidents, and disasters. Psychosis symptoms were explained by trauma exposure to a considerate degree and at a level similar to CPTSD; a moderate correlation was also found between CPTSD and Psychosis. Physical/emotional neglect was the only traumatic life event that significantly and most strongly predicted both conditions. Two gender-specific associations between different traumatic life events and CPTSD and Psychosis were identified out of the 42 possible effects modelled. 

    Conclusions: The present investigation provides initial evidence that psychotic-like symptoms and CPTSD are moderately correlated constructs in the general population. Results also highlight the importance of conducting a detailed assessment of trauma history for all clients presenting with symptoms of CPTSD, psychosis, or both.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2009271
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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