Causal beliefs in people experiencing psychosis: The relationship to treatment accessed and the perceived helpfulness of treatment

Lucy Carter, John Read, Melissa Pyle, Heather Law, Richard Emsley, Anthony Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Research suggests that the way an individual understands a health difficulty can influence their subsequent behaviour. The aim of this study was to explore the psychometric properties of a new causal belief questionnaire for people who have experience of psychosis. We also planned to provide an overview of current causal beliefs within this group and to explore the relationship between these beliefs and the perceived helpfulness of treatment and the treatment accessed. Methods: Three hundred and eleven service-users with experience of psychosis completed a questionnaire designed to explore how they understand the cause of their difficulties. Additional information was collected about different aspects of treatment. Results: The results of the exploratory factor analysis indicated a two-factor solution comprising a psychosocial and biogenetic scale. Individuals in this study endorsed a variety of different causes, with an overall preference for psychosocial explanations. No relationships were established between beliefs and perceptions about the helpfulness of treatment. Individuals who had accessed cognitive behavioural therapy were more likely to endorse the psychosocial factor. Conclusions: Individuals with psychosis consider a number of factors to be important in relation to the development of their experiences. These beliefs should be explored as part of the therapeutic process as this appears to be important to the individual and could potentially help inform treatment decisions. Practitioner points: The causal belief questionnaire captured two underlying constructs relating to psychosocial and biogenetic causes. Individuals within this group endorsed a range of factors; however, they prefer psychosocial causes overall. There was an indication that some aspects of an individual's beliefs were associated with the treatment they accessed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Early online date1 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Causal beliefs
  • Psychosis
  • Service-user survey
  • Treatment


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