Declaration of interest
There is robust evidence that childhood adversity is associated with an increased risk of psychosis. There is, however, little research on intervening factors that might increase or decrease risk following childhood adversity.
To investigate main effects of, and synergy between, childhood abuse and life events and cannabis use on odds of psychotic experiences.
Data on psychotic experiences and childhood abuse, life events and cannabis use were collected from 1680 individuals as part of the South East London Community Health Study (SELCoH), a population-based household survey.
There was strong evidence that childhood abuse and number of life events combined synergistically to increase odds of psychotic experiences beyond the effects of each individually. There was similar, but weaker, evidence for cannabis use (past year).
Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that childhood abuse creates an enduring vulnerability to psychosis that is realised in the event of exposure to further stressors and risk factors.
This research was supported by the Biomedical Research Nucleus data management and informatics facility at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London and a joint infrastructure grant from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the Maudsley Charity. S.L.H., M.H., C.M. and S.F. receive salary support from the NIHR Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. C.M. is further supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust (Grant Number: WT087417) and European Union (European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (grant agreement No. HEALTH-F2-2009-241909) (Project EU-GEI)).
- Royal College of Psychiatrists