Prevalence of Psychotic Symptoms in Childhood and Adolescence: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Population-Based Studies

Ian Kelleher, D. Connor, M.C. Clarke, N. Devlin, M. Harley, M. Cannon, Psychological Medicine, 2012, 9, 1–7.


BACKGROUND: Psychotic symptoms occur more frequently in the general population than psychotic disorder and index risk for psychopathology. Multiple studies have reported on the prevalence of these symptoms using self-report questionnaires or clinical interviews but there is a lack of consensus about the prevalence of psychotic symptoms among children and adolescents.

METHOD: We conducted a systematic review of all published literature on psychotic symptom prevalence in two age groups, children aged 9-12 years and adolescents aged 13-18 years, searching through electronic databases PubMed, Ovid Medline, PsycINFO and EMBASE up to June 2011, and extracted prevalence rates.

RESULTS: We identified 19 population studies that reported on psychotic symptom prevalence among children and adolescents. The median prevalence of psychotic symptoms was 17% among children aged 9-12 years and 7.5% among adolescents aged 13-18 years.

CONCLUSION: Psychotic symptoms are relatively common in young people, especially in childhood. Prevalence is higher in younger (9 to 12 years) compared to older (13 to 18 years) children.