Clinical presentation of psychotic experiences in patients with common mental disorders attending the UK primary care improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) Programme

Anna Wiedemann, Jan Stochl, Debra Russo, Ushma Patel, Polly-Anna Ashford, Naima Ali, Peter B. Jones, Jesus Perez

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Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services address anxiety and depression in primary care, with psychotic disorders typically excluded. Our previous research found 1 in 4 patients report distressing psychotic experiences (PE) alongside common mental disorders, yet little is known about their clinical presentation and impact on recovery.

We used the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences — Positive Scale (CAPE-P15) to assess the clinical presentation and symptomatic profile of PE within IAPT settings across three National Health Service (NHS) trusts, serving a diverse population in Southern England. We identified different classes based on the reported PE frequencies using latent class analysis.

A total of 2042 IAPT patients completed the CAPE-P15. The mean age was 39.8 (±15.3) years. We identified five distinct classes of symptom profiles, findings that PE were common, especially self-referential and persecutory ideas. Prevalence and intensity increased across classes, extending to bizarre experiences and perceptual abnormalities in the fifth and least common class. Perceptual abnormalities were a strong indicator of symptom severity, with patients being the least likely to achieve recovery by the end of treatment.

Data were collected during a service evaluation. Replication of these findings across other IAPT services could prove beneficial. We did not collect information on negative PE.

Patients seeking treatment for anxiety and depression in primary care commonly experience a wide range of positive PE. Self-referential and persecutory ideation were prevalent; perceptual abnormalities were infrequent. Providing information about prevalence and tailoring therapy may help reduce patient distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-241
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date12 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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