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BACKGROUND: Stressful life events (SLEs) are associated with psychotic experiences. SLEs might act as an environmental risk factor, but may also share a genetic propensity with psychotic experiences. AIMS: To estimate the extent to which genetic and environmental factors influence the relationship between SLEs and psychotic experiences. METHOD: Self- and parent reports from a community-based twin sample (4830 16-year-old pairs) were analysed using structural equation model fitting. RESULTS: SLEs correlated with positive psychotic experiences (r = 0.12-0.14, all P<0.001). Modest heritability was shown for psychotic experiences (25-57%) and dependent SLEs (32%). Genetic influences explained the majority of the modest covariation between dependent SLEs and paranoia and cognitive disorganisation (bivariate heritabilities 74-86%). The relationship between SLEs and hallucinations and grandiosity was explained by both genetic and common environmental effects. CONCLUSIONS: Further to dependent SLEs being an environmental risk factor, individuals may have an underlying genetic propensity increasing their risk of dependent SLEs and positive psychotic experiences.

Original publication

DOI

10.1192/bjp.bp.114.159079

Type

Journal article

Journal

Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date

06/2016

Volume

208

Pages

532 - 538