Perceived discrimination and psychosis: A systematic review of the literature

Josie Pearce, Sonya Rafiq, Jane Simpson, Filippo Varese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Higher rates of psychosis are reported in minority groups. Since individuals belonging to such groups are vulnerable to the experiences of discrimination, and in line with models proposing that social and life adversity may play a causal role in development and maintenance of psychotic experiences, it has been proposed that perceived discrimination may represent an important determinant of psychotic experiences. This paper reviews the literature examining the relationship between perceived discrimination and psychosis, examining whether discrimination is associated with an increased risk of psychosis, the severity of psychotic symptoms and whether there is an association with specific psychotic symptoms.
Methods: A systematic database search of PsycINFO, Embase and PubMed was conducted to identify quantitative cross-sectional and prospective studies that examined the association between discrimination and psychosis.
Results: Twenty-four studies met the inclusion criteria, four of which used prospective designs and twenty used cross-sectional designs. The main findings indicated that discrimination may be associated with an increased risk of psychosis (too few studies to determine whether discrimination is associated with severity). Some studies found associations between discrimination and positive psychotic experiences and/or specific psychotic experiences such as paranoia. A small number of studies found that greater exposures to discrimination was associated with a greater likelihood of reporting psychotic experiences, tentatively indicating a dose-response relationship.
Conclusions: This review indicates that discrimination plays an important role in the experience of psychosis, however, future research is required to clarify the nature of this relationship. Avenues for further research and clinical implications are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemology
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2019


  • Perceived discrimination
  • trauma
  • minority
  • psychosis


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