a1 Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, QLD 4076, Australia
a2 Metro North Mental Health, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
a3 The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
a4 Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
a5 Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, QLD 4102, Australia
a6 Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
Background. Population-based studies have identified that delusional-like experiences (DLEs) are common in the general population. While there is a large literature exploring the relationship between poor social support and risk of mental illness, there is a lack of empirical data examining the association of poor social support and DLEs. The aim of the study was to explore the association between social support and DLEs using a large, nationally representative community sample.
Methods. Subjects were drawn from a national multistage probability survey of 8841 adults aged between 16 and 85 years. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to identify DLEs, common psychiatric disorders and physical disorders. Eight questions assessed various aspects of social support with spouse/partners and other family and friends. We examined the relationship between DLEs and social support using logistic regression, adjusting for potential confounding factors.
Results. Of the sample, 8.4% (n = 776) positively endorsed one or more DLEs. Individuals who (a) had the least contact with friends, or (b) could not rely on or confide in spouse/partner, family or friends were significantly more likely to endorse DLEs. The associations remained significant after adjusting for a range of potential confounding factors.
Conclusions. DLEs are associated with impoverished social support in the general population. While we cannot exclude the possibility that the presence of isolated DLEs results in a reduction of social support, we speculate that poor social support may contribute in a causal fashion to the risk of DLEs.
(Received November 02 2011)
(Revised December 07 2011)
(Accepted December 09 2011)