Childhood trauma and schizotypy in non-clinical samples: A systematic review and meta-analysis

The association of early life adversities and psychosis symptoms is well documented in clinical populations; however, whether this relationship also extends into subclinical psychosis remains unclear. In particular, are early life adversities associated with increased levels of schizotypal personality traits in non-clinical samples? We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of associations between early life adversities and psychometrically defined schizotypal traits in non-clinical samples. The review followed PRISMA guidelines. The search using PubMed, Web of Science and EBSCO databases identified 1,609 articles in total. Twenty-five studies (N = 15,253 participants) met eligibility criteria for the review. An assessment of study quality showed that fewer than half of all studies were rated as methodologically robust. Meta-analyses showed that all forms of childhood abuse (emotional, physical and sexual) and neglect (emotional and physical) were significantly associated with psychometric schizotypy. The association of schizotypy traits with childhood emotional abuse (r = .33: 95%CI .30 to .37) was significantly larger than for all other form of abuse or neglect. Meta-regression analyses showed that the physical abuse-schizotypy relationship was stronger in samples with more women participants; and the sexual abuse-schizotypy relationship was stronger in younger samples.

The current review identifies a dose-response relationship between all forms of abuse/neglect and schizotypy scores in non-clinical samples; however, a stronger association emerged for emotional abuse. More research is required to address the relationship of trauma types and specific symptom types. Future research should also address the under-representation of men.