A systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between emotional stress reactivity and psychosis

Sarah Muddle, Bradley Jones, Gemma Taylor, Pamela Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim
Emotional stress reactivity may be a mediating factor in the association between trauma and psychosis. This review aimed to (i) identify, summarise and critically evaluate the link between emotional stress reactivity and psychotic experiences (ii) examine evidence for a 'dose–response' relationship between stress reactivity and psychosis in the wider psychosis phenotype (i.e., sub-clinical symptoms).

Methods
Electronic database searches (PsychINFO, MEDLINE, EMBASE) were conducted for studies which investigated the link between stress reactivity and psychosis, psychotic symptoms, or a vulnerability to developing psychosis (wider phenotype). Cross-sectional, experimental and experience sampling method study designs were eligible for inclusion.

Results
Fourty five eligible articles were identified (N participants = 8830). Narrative synthesis showed that increased emotional stress reactivity was associated with psychosis and subclinical psychotic experiences across all study designs, however, findings were inconsistent across studies. The preliminary meta-analysis (k = 4, n = 383) showed increases in emotional stress reactivity was associated with higher negative affect in response to event-related stress, in those with psychosis compared to controls (mean difference in beta coefficients = 0.05, 95% CI 0.02–0.08, p = .004). However, this difference was small with a considerable degree of heterogeneity (p = .001, I2 = 81%) so results should be interpreted with caution.

Conclusions
Overall, the evidence suggests that there is a link between emotional stress reactivity and psychosis in those with psychosis, those at high risk of developing psychosis and in relation to subclinical psychotic-like experiences in the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-978
Number of pages21
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Volume16
Issue number9
Early online date14 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • affect
  • psychological
  • psychotic disorders
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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