A Population Based Analysis of Subclinical Psychosis and Help-Seeking Behavior

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Clinically defined psychosis is recognizable and distinguishable from nonclinical or subclinical psychosis by virtue of its clinical relevance (ie, its associated distress and its need for care and/or treatment). According to the continuum hypothesis, subclinical psychosis is merely quantitatively different from more extreme phenotypic expressions and as such should also be indicative of distress and help-seeking behavior but to a lesser extent. Using data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, the current study focused on self-reported psychosis and help-seeking experiences in a general population sample free from clinically defined psychosis (N = 7266). After statistically controlling for the effects of a series of potential help-seeking correlates the findings showed that subclinical psychosis symptom experience was significantly associated with various forms of help-seeking behavior. Individuals who reported subclinical experiences of thought control, paranoia, and strange experiences were on average 2 times more likely to attend their general practitioner for emotional problems compared with those individuals who reported no psychosis. Individuals who reported subclinical experiences of paranoia were 3 times more likely to be in receipt of counseling/therapy compared with those with no experience of paranoia. Multiple subclinical psychotic experiences also predicted elevated help-seeking behavior. These findings may have a positive impact on the detection of individuals who are at increased risk of psychological distress and aid in the design and implementation of more effective treatments at both clinical and subclinical levels.

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