The experience of body image in people with psychosis and psychotic-like experiences: a co-produced mixed methods systematic review and narrative synthesis

Jenna McAllister, Alie Phiri, Tracey McKee, Kara Keddie, Leonie Richardson, Rebekah Carney, Felicity Waite, A. Gill, Sophie M. Allan, Andrew Gumley, Stephanie Allan

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Background: Body image is a transdiagnostic construct which appears poorly understood in the context of psychosis. Poor body image is associated with paranoia which makes it a theoretically meaningful treatment target in psychosis. We systematically reviewed associations between body image and psychosis symptoms in both the typical population and people living with psychotic disorders, synthesised known correlates of negative body image in people living with psychotic disorders and performed a meta-synthesis to understand the lived experience of body image in people with psychosis.
Method: Ovid MEDLINE, OVID Embase, OVID APA PsycINFO, EBSCOhost Cinahl and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched in January 2024. The methodological quality and risk of bias were assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.

Results: 20,612 participants were included from 31 studies, of which 3203 (15.54%) living with psychotic conditions, 17,301 from the general population, 93 people with other conditions being compared to psychosis (such as bipolar disorder) and 15 carers. There were 25 quantitative studies (24 cross-sectional, 1 prospective), five qualitative studies, and one mixed-methods study. Cross-sectional evidence suggests associations between negative body image and psychotic symptoms, especially paranoia, as well as wider mental and physical health outcomes. Potential factors contributing to the persistence of poor body image include psychosis symptoms, worries about appearance related judgements, negative self-concept, body ambivalence, appearance related safety-seeking behaviours, and traumatic memories.

Conclusions: Negative body image is relevant to the lives of people with psychosis spectrum conditions. Recommendations to guide and improve future research are reported.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2024

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