Psychotic symptoms and sensory impairment: Findings from the 2014 adult psychiatric morbidity survey

Schizophr Res. 2020 Jan;215:357-364. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.08.028. Epub 2019 Sep 1.


Purpose: Hearing and visual impairment have been associated with psychosis. Mechanisms behind this are poorly understood. We tested whether i) self-reported hearing and visual impairments are associated with psychotic symptoms in the 2014 UK Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey; ii) the odds of having psychotic symptoms vary with self-perceived degree of impairments; and iii) reduced social functioning partially explains these associations.

Methods: We analysed cross-sectional data using logistic regression. Hearing and visual impairment were the exposures, and screening positive on the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire was the outcome. We used structural equation modelling to assess mediation by social functioning, measured by the Social Functioning Questionnaire.

Results: Psychotic symptoms were strongly associated with visual impairment (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 1.81, 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) 1.33 to 2.44), especially moderate visual impairment (AOR 2.75, 95% CI 1.78 to 4.24, p < .001). Psychotic symptoms were associated with a severe degree of hearing impairment (AOR 4.94, 95% CI 1.66 to 14.67, p = .004), and weakly associated with hearing impairment overall (AOR 1.50, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.04, p = .010). Social functioning accounted for approximately 50% of associations with both types of sensory impairment, but the confidence intervals around these estimates were broad.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest an association between psychosis and visual impairment, with the strongest evidence for moderate visual impairment; the findings also support a linear relationship between psychosis and degree of hearing impairment. Social functioning may mediate these relationships and be a potential target for intervention, alongside sensory correction. These should be investigated longitudinally.

Keywords: Hearing impairment; Psychotic symptoms; Social functioning; Visual impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychosocial Functioning*
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult