The relationship between coping and subclinical psychotic experiences in adolescents from the general population - a longitudinal study

Ashleigh Lin*, J. T. W. Wigman, Barnaby Nelson, Wilma A. M. Vollebergh, J. van Os, Gennedy Baksheev, Jaymee Ryan, Quinten A. W. Raaijmakers, A. Thompson, A. R. Yung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Subclinical psychotic experiences during adolescence may represent liability for developing psychotic disorder. Both coping style and the degree of persistence of psychotic experiences may play a role in the progression to clinical psychotic disorder, but little is known about the causal relationship between the two. Method. Path modelling was used to examine longitudinal relationships between subclinical positive psychotic experiences and three styles of coping (task-, emotion-and avoidance-oriented) in an adolescent general population sample (n=813) assessed three times in 3 years. Distinct developmental trajectories of psychotic experiences, identified with growth mixture modelling, were compared on the use of these coping styles. Results. Over time, emotion-oriented coping in general was bi-directionally related to psychotic experiences. No meaningful results were found for task-or avoidance-oriented coping. Females reported using a wider range of coping styles than males, but the paths between coping and psychotic experiences did not differ by gender. Persistence of psychotic experiences was associated with a greater use of emotion-oriented coping, whereas a decrease in experiences over time was associated with an increased use of task-orientated coping. Conclusions. Emotion-oriented coping is the most important coping style in relation to psychotic experiences, as it may contribute to a 'vicious cycle' and is associated with persistence of experiences. In addition, more task-oriented coping may result in a decrease in psychotic experiences. Results suggest that opportunities for intervention may already be present at the level of subclinical psychosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2535-2546
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Coping
  • development
  • general population
  • subclinical psychotic experiences

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