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Latent structure of psychotic experiences in the general population

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Ahmed AO, Buckley PF, Mabe PA. Latent structure of psychotic experiences in the general population.

Objective:  There have been increasing pressures to adopt or incorporate dimensional representations in various sections of DSM‐5 including the psychotic disorders section. Thus far, findings offered as evidence of a continuous distribution of psychosis are limited given their exclusive focus on the manifest rather than latent structure of psychotic experiences. The current study sought to determine whether or not psychotic experiences possess a taxonic or dimensional latent structure.

Method:  We investigated the latent structure of psychotic experiences in the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiological Surveys (CPES) and the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS). We analyzed responses of participants in these surveys with three multivariate taxometric procedures (MAMBAC, MAXEIG, and L‐Mode) after summing responses on the surveys into three indicators of positive psychosis.

Results:  Taxometric results tended to support a dimensional, rather than taxonic structure for psychotic experiences. In the CPES, all taxometric methods produced graphical and numerical support for a dimensional structure. In the NCS, MAMBAC appeared to slightly support a taxonic structure, whereas MAXEIG and L‐Mode supported a dimensional structure.

Conclusion:  There appears to be a dimensional distribution of psychotic experiences in the general population. This supports the incorporation of dimensional representations of psychotic symptoms in the current diagnostic system.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2012


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