Prevalence of psychotic symptoms among older adults in an Asian population

Mythily Subramaniam, Edimansyah Abdin, Janhavi Vaingankar, Louisa Picco, Shazana Shahwan, Anitha Jeyagurunathan, Yunjue Zhang, Swapna Verma, Siow Ann Chong

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Background: Psychotic symptoms are common among older adults and are seen in a wide range of conditions. Most studies examining the prevalence and correlates of psychotic symptoms among older adults have been conducted in Western populations. To address this gap the current study was undertaken to establish the prevalence and correlates of psychotic symptoms and paranoid ideation within a community sample of older adults without dementia in an Asian population. Methods: The Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) study was a comprehensive single phase, cross-sectional survey. All respondents were assessed using the Geriatric Mental State examination (GMS). Specific questions of the GMS were then used to establish the prevalence of hallucinations and persecutory delusions. Results: A total of 2,565 respondents completed the study giving a response rate of 65.6%. The prevalence of any psychotic symptoms in this population of older adults was 5.2%. The odds of hallucinations and any psychotic symptoms were significantly higher among those of Malay ethnicity, and those who had no formal education. Older adults aged 75-84 years were significantly associated with lower odds of having hallucinations (vs. older adult aged 60-74 years), while homemaker status was significantly associated with lower odds of having any psychotic symptoms. Conclusions: The prevalence of psychotic symptoms among older Asian adults without dementia was higher than that reported from Western countries. Psychotic symptoms were associated with Malay ethnicity, poor cognitive performance and fewer years of schooling, visual and hearing impairment as well as depression and irritability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1220
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian
  • delusions
  • geriatric mental state examination
  • hallucinations
  • psychosis

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