Child abuse has been associated with risk of mental illness, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders and, among those with mental illness, with a more severe clinical profile. Using an extensively characterised and epidemiologically representative sample of 1825 Australians with a psychotic illness aged 18-64 years and in contact with mental health services, we estimated the proportion of individuals with psychotic disorders who self-reported child abuse and examined its relationship with clinical and other characteristics. The prevalence of child abuse in this nationally representative sample of people with psychotic illness was 30.6%. Women were almost three times more likely to report child abuse compared to males (OR, 2.8, 95% CI 2.3-3.4). When adjusted for age at interview and socio-economic status, there was no significant relationship between self-reported child abuse and type of psychosis or course of illness. Participants with child abuse were significantly more likely to have subjective thought disorder, lifetime suicide attempt and premorbid personality disorder (females only) and anxiety (males only). Our findings demonstrate that child abuse is relatively common across the range of psychotic disorders, with an elevated risk for women in particular, compounding the already high burden associated with psychotic illness. Clinicians need to inquire routinely about child abuse in order to develop appropriate treatment plans tailored to individual needs.
- Child abuse
- Gender differences