Course of auditory vocal hallucinations in childhood: 5-year follow-up study

Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;199(4):296-302. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.086918.


Background: In a baseline study among 7- and 8-year-old children with auditory vocal hallucinations, only limited functional impact was observed.

Aims: To assess 5-year course and predictors of auditory vocal hallucinations, as well as 5-year incidence and its risk factors.

Method: A sample of 337 children, 12 and 13 years of age, were reassessed on auditory vocal hallucinations and associated symptoms after a mean follow-up period of 5.1 years.

Results: The 5-year persistence and incidence rates were 24% and 9% respectively, with more new cases arising in urban areas.Both persistent and incident auditory vocal hallucinations were associated with problem behaviour in the clinical range of psychopathology as measured with the Child Behavior Checklist, particularly at follow-up, as well as with other psychotic symptoms, particularly at baseline. Persistence was predicted by baseline auditory vocal hallucinations severity,particularly in terms of external attribution of voices and hearing multiple voices, and was associated with worse primary school test scores and lower secondary school level.

Conclusions: First onset of auditory vocal hallucinations in middle childhood is not uncommon and is associated with psychopathological and behavioural comorbidity. Similarly,persistence of auditory vocal hallucinations in childhood is not uncommon and is associated with psychopathological,behavioural and cognitive alterations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Educational Status
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hallucinations / diagnosis
  • Hallucinations / epidemiology*
  • Hallucinations / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population