The British Journal of Psychiatry
Epidemiology of paranoid symptoms in an elderly population.
Y Forsell, A S Henderson


BACKGROUND Elderly people with paranoid symptoms are a taxing group for medical and social services, but studies of the prevalence of these symptoms in the general elderly population are rare. This study aimed to estimate the community prevalence and to identify some associated variables.

METHOD A community samples of 1420 elderly people, was extensively examined by nurses and physicians.

RESULTS Paranoid ideation was found in 6.3% of the sample. The prevalence in people with cognitive dysfunction (n = 381, 12.1%) was higher than in those without (n = 1039, 2.6%). Once cognitive impairment had been controlled the associated variables were: being divorced, being female, having depressive symptoms, using psychotropic drugs, having no friends or visitors, using community care and being an immigrant.

CONCLUSION Paranoid symptoms in this elderly population were associated most strongly with cognitive impairment. Other associated variables pointed to a higher level of social isolation than others in the community.