Childhood social isolation and psychotic experiences in young adulthood: a community based study

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2020 Jul;29(7):1003-1010. doi: 10.1007/s00787-019-01417-2. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


Non-clinical psychotic experiences (PEs) occur at over twice the rate of psychotic disorders along a continuum in the general population and increase risk for progression to diagnoseable disorders. Social isolation is a risk factor for psychotic disorders, although it is unclear if childhood social isolation increases risk for experience of non-clinical PEs later in life. Data come from the Gaz et Electricité (GAZEL) Youth Study (1991-1999) and the Trajectoires Épidémiologiques en Population (TEMPO) Study (2009-2011), a community-based prospective cohort study. Of 1,227 participants whose parents completed questionnaires (1999, participants aged 7-10 years) and who were followed-up (2011, participants aged 25-37 years), 333 had childhood social isolation and young adult PE data. Lifetime prevalence of PEs was 21%. Childhood social isolation was not associated with 0-1 PE in young adulthood (p = 0.74). However, childhood social isolation predicted the experience of ≥ 2 PEs in young adulthood, controlling for gender, age, and general health status (OR = 11.5, 95% CI = 2.5, 52.0, p = 0.002). Childhood social isolation predicts the risk of experiencing two or more lifetime PEs, which may increase the risk for subsequent progression to a diagnoseable psychotic disorder.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Psychosis; Psychotic disorders; Psychotic experiences; Risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Young Adult