Prevalence of psychotic episodes in autism: systematic review and meta-analysis


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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Psychotic experiences (PEs) may be more prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autistic traits but the prevalence may vary according to the PE subtype, concludes a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Schizophrenia Bulletin Open.

The authors searched PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and the Cochrane database on 20 November 2018, for studies providing statistical results on the association between PEs and ASD/autistic traits.

Meta-analyses were conducted for both the prevalence of PEs and the correlation between PEs and autistic traits. Subgroup analyses were conducted for each PE subtype.

Among the 17 included studies, nine had data about prevalence and eight had data about correlation.

Pooled prevalence of PEs in ASD was 24 per cent (95% CI 14%-34%). However, subanalyses found that prevalence varied between PE subtypes (hallucinations 6%; delusions, 45%).

Pooled results showed that PEs and autistic traits had a weak to medium correlation (r = 0.34; 95% CI 0.27-0.41).

The authors concluded that PEs seem to be more prevalent in individuals with ASD/autistic traits than in the general population, but this finding may vary according to PE subtype. They called for more studies to clarify the relationship between ASD/autistic traits and PEs by subtype.