An investigation into early adverse life events and psychotic-like experiences in Irish youth

At some time in their life, up to one in six adolescents is likely to have experienced some form of hallucinations or delusions, also known as psychotic-like experiences. These experiences include things like hearing voices, seeing things that are not there and having fixed false beliefs about yourself or the world around you. Most young people stop having these kinds of experiences as they get older but, for some young people, they are a risk factor for more serious mental health problems. How and why young people have these kinds of experiences and what affects whether or not these experiences lead to later mental health problems are key questions that researchers are trying to answer. This study will look at the role that traumatic or stressful experiences in childhood or adolescence play in young people having psychotic-like experiences during adolescence. It will also explore how these traumatic or stressful life experiences affect the mental health of adolescents who experience psychotic-like experiences when they reach young adulthood. We are particularly interested in understanding if any particular stressful life experiences are associated with ongoing psychotic symptoms throughout adolescence and into young adulthood.Through this research, we hope to gather more detailed and specific information on the kinds of traumatic or stressful life experiences that place young people at risk, not only of developing psychotic-like symptoms, but also of continuing to experience hallucinations, delusions or other mental health difficulties as they get older. We hope to be able to find out whether or not the type of life event a young person experiences or the age at which a young person experiences a stressful life event are associated with psychotic-like experiences during adolescence and into young adulthood.


Award Date
14 May 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Ms Helen Coughlan
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Research Training Fellowships for Healthcare Professionals