Significance of endorsement of psychotic symptoms by US latinos

Roberto Lewis-Fernández, Marcela Horvitz-Lennon, Carlos Blanco, Peter Guarnaccia, Zhun Cao, Margarita Alegría

Publish Year: 2009

In US regional studies, Latinos frequently endorse psychotic symptoms associated with impairment and mental health service use, yet do not meet criteria for psychotic disorder. Using a nationally representative Latino sample (N = 2554), we examined the prevalence of psychotic symptoms, their relationship to psychotic disorder, their correlates, and their relationship to mental health outcomes. In this sample, 9.5% (SE = 0.7) endorsed 1 or more lifetime psychotic symptoms, yet 93% of endorsers did not meet Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV criteria for psychotic disorders. Endorsement was associated with physical and emotional distress, particularly lifetime anxiety and current substance use disorder. Acculturation to US society and reliance on spiritual/religious help were also associated with psychotic symptom endorsement. These symptoms have substantial clinical significance, being independently associated with suicidal ideation, mental health-related disability, and outpatient mental health service utilization. Endorsed psychotic symptoms in Latinos may constitute a clinically significant marker of general psychiatric vulnerability rather than a sign of psychotic disorder.