Criminal victimization and psychotic experiences: cross-sectional associations in 35 low- and middle-income countries

J. E. DeVylder, I. Kelleher, H. Oh, B. G. Link, L. H. Yang, A. Koyanagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Criminal victimization has been associated with elevated risk for psychotic symptoms in the United Kingdom, but has not been studied in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Understanding whether crime exposure may play a role in the social etiology of psychosis could help guide prevention and intervention efforts. Method: We tested the hypothesis that criminal victimization would be associated with elevated odds of psychotic experiences in 35 LMICs (N = 146 999) using cross-sectional data from the World Health Organization World Health Survey. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to test for associations between criminal victimization and psychotic experiences. Results: Victimization was associated with greater odds of psychotic experiences, OR (95% CI) = 1.72 (1.50–1.98), and was significantly more strongly associated with psychotic experiences in non-urban, OR (95% CI) = 1.93 (1.60–2.33), compared to urban settings, OR (95% CI) = 1.48 (1.21–1.81). The association between victimization and psychosis did not change across countries with varying aggregated levels of criminal victimization. Conclusions: In the largest ever study of victimization and psychosis, the association between criminal victimization and psychosis appears to generalize across a range of LMICs and, therefore, across nations with a broad range of crime rates, degree of urban development, average per capita income, and racial/ethnic make-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • crime
  • crime victims
  • epidemiology
  • psychotic disorders
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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