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Keywords:

  • psychotic disorders;
  • schizophrenia;
  • family

Objective:  Previous studies indicate that a poor family environment might affect vulnerability for the later manifestation of psychotic illness. The current study aims to examine family functioning prior to the onset of psychosis.

Method:  Subjects were 42 948, 17-year old males with behavioural disturbances who were asked about the functioning of their family by the Israeli Draft Board. Data on later psychiatric hospitalizations were obtained from a National Psychiatric Hospitalization Registry.

Results:  Poorer self-reported family functioning was associated with greater risk for later hospitalization for psychosis [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 1.16, 95% CI = 1.05–1.27], with a trend in the same direction for schizophrenia (adjusted HR = 1.1, 95% CI = 0.98–1.24).

Conclusion:  In male adolescents with behavioural disturbances, perceived poorer family functioning is associated with increased risk for non-affective psychotic disorders and schizophrenia. These data do not enable us to determine if perceived familial dysfunction increases vulnerability for psychosis, if premorbid behavioural abnormalities disrupt family life, or neither.