Prevalence of auditory verbal hallucinations in a general population: A group comparison study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The present study was specifically designed to investigate the prevalence of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) in the general population, and sought to compare similarities and differences regarding socio-demographics, mental health and severe life events between individuals who have never experienced AVH with those who had. The study also aimed to compare those who sought professional help for their experience of AVH with those who had not sought help. Through a postal questionnaire, 2,533 participants ages 18 and over from a national survey completed the Launay-Slade Hallucinations Scale and other measures examining AVH characteristics and other areas related to AVH. In total, 7.3% of the sample reported a life-time prevalence of AVH. Those with AVH were more likely to be single and unemployed, reported higher levels of depression and anxiety, and experienced a higher number of severe life events compared with those without AVH. Only 16% of those who experienced AVH in the general population sought professional help for these experiences. Compared to those who did not seek professional help, participants that had were more likely to experience AVH with a negative content, experience them on a daily basis, undergo negative reactions when experiencing AVH, and resist AVH. In conclusion, the prevalence of AVH was found to be relatively high. The results also revealed higher levels of reduced mental health for individuals who sought professional help, followed by those who did not, compared with those who had never experienced AVH.