Reliability and comparability of psychosis patients' retrospective reports of childhood abuse

Schizophr Bull. 2011 May;37(3):546-53. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbp103. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


An increasing number of studies are demonstrating an association between childhood abuse and psychosis. However, the majority of these rely on retrospective self-reports in adulthood that may be unduly influenced by current psychopathology. We therefore set out to explore the reliability and comparability of first-presentation psychosis patients' reports of childhood abuse. Psychosis case subjects were drawn from the Aetiology and Ethnicity of Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses (ÆSOP) epidemiological study and completed the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire to elicit abusive experiences that occurred prior to 16 years of age. High levels of concurrent validity were demonstrated with the Parental Bonding Instrument (antipathy: r(s)=0.350-0.737, P<.001; neglect: r(s)=0.688-0.715, P<.001), and good convergent validity was shown with clinical case notes (sexual abuse: κ=0.526, P<.001; physical abuse: κ=0.394, P<.001). Psychosis patients' reports were also reasonably stable over a 7-year period (sexual abuse: κ=0.590, P<.01; physical abuse: κ=0.634, P<.001; antipathy: κ=0.492, P<.01; neglect: κ=0.432, P<.05). Additionally, their reports of childhood abuse were not associated with current severity of psychotic symptoms (sexual abuse: U=1768.5, P=.998; physical abuse: U=2167.5, P=.815; antipathy: U=2216.5, P=.988; neglect: U=1906.0, P=.835) or depressed mood (sexual abuse: χ(2)=0.634, P=.277; physical abuse: χ(2)=0.159, P=.419; antipathy: χ(2)=0.868, P=.229; neglect: χ(2)=0.639, P=.274). These findings provide justification for the use in future studies of retrospective reports of childhood abuse obtained from individuals with psychotic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*