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PsyLife Research

The PsyLife group explores how social and economic determinants of health, at multiple levels of causation, may increase the risk of psychotic symptoms and disorders in the population. We use a variety of observational epidemiology study designs, including longitudinal birth cohorts to examine how exposure to adverse exposures over the life course may impact on the risk of disorders such as schizophrenia, and the symptoms that commonly occur such as hallucinations  and delusions. You can find out more about our work on this page.

What questions does PsyLife want to answer?

Living in urban environments and ethnic minority status are both known to increase the risk of developing a psychotic disorder . The PsyLife Research Group wants to understand which specific social factors in our environment might explain this increased risk (such as deprivation, inequality, social isolation or discrimination), and when in our life these factors have their largest influence on our risk of developing psychotic disorder. New research from our group suggests that childhood exposure to socially adverse environments leads to more mental health difficulties in adolescence . We are also interested in how different social or genetic factors might combine to increase or decrease our risk of disorder at different points of the life course.

What datasets are you using to answer them?

To answer these questions, we use data from large, longitudinal datasets especially designed to investigate how social, genetic and biological influences affect different health outcomes. We use data from the following studies:

  • ALSPAC birth cohort: this study has followed an initial cohort of over 12,000 children from birth (currently aged 23 years) to investigate how different experiences and risks influence health. We use this data to study how psychotic symptoms vary by social and environmental factors
  • Swedish National Register data: anonymised administrative data on the entire Swedish population (over 10m records) allows us to investigate how social factors influence psychotic disorder .
  • NLSCY cohort: this study followed a large sample of children in Canada until their late teens. We use it to investigate how social factors link to several different mental health outcomes .

Where can I find out more?

Visit our publications page to find out more about our research.


Want the science behind the blurb? Follow the links below to the peer-reviewed research papers.