Negative Interpretations of Ambiguous ‘Psychosis-like’ and ‘Anxiety-like’ Experiences in Recovery from Psychosis or Anxiety

Rebecca Sired, Emma Griffith, Taruna Jamalamadaka, Paul Salkovskis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Fear of relapse (FOR) after experiencing psychosis has been found to predict actual relapse; however, potential mechanisms underlying this relationship have not been investigated. Negative appraisals of “prodromal symptoms” are believed to play an important role in both psychosis and mental health anxiety (MHA). This study aimed to explore whether people in recovery from psychosis or anxiety disorders show an enduring tendency to negatively interpret ambiguous experiences both related and less related to their previous mental health difficulty relative to controls.
Design: Cross-sectional between-groups questionnaire design.
Methods: Participants self-reported as in recovery from psychosis (n=33) or anxiety (n=77) or without previous experience of mental health problems (n=61) were recruited online or via NHS services. Interpretations of psychosis-like, anxiety-like and external-control experiences were measured using the Experiences Interpretation Questionnaire (EIQ) developed for purpose, and MHA and FOR using self-report questionnaires.
Results: People in recovery from psychosis interpreted psychosis-like experiences significantly more negatively than the other groups. Negative interpretations of anxiety-like experiences were comparable for both mental health groups, both differing significantly from controls. Contrary to predictions, FOR was not significantly different between the mental health groups. MHA and FOR did not significantly predict negative interpretations of psychosis-like items in the psychosis group, however MHA predicted negative interpretations of anxiety-like items in the anxiety group. The EIQ subscales demonstrated good test-retest reliability.
Conclusions: Findings suggest people in recovery from psychosis or anxiety may negatively interpret ambiguous experiences relating to their previous mental health difficulties. Clinical and future research implications are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Early online date13 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2021

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