On the interconnectedness and prognostic value of visual and auditory hallucinations in first-episode psychosis

Melanie Clark, F. Waters, T. M. Vatskalis, A. Jablensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Web of Science)


Background Visual hallucinations (VH) are common symptoms in schizophrenia and other psychoses. An understanding of their cross-sectional and longitudinal patterns of association with auditory hallucinations (AH) is essential for developing accurate models of hallucinatory phenomena. Objective This study presents the most comprehensive examination of the association between VH and AH, and its change over time, in 1303 individuals with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and 469 individuals with chronic schizophrenia. Method The samples included data from the WHO multicentre study on the Determinants of Outcome of Severe Mental Disorders and the Western Australian Family Study of Schizophrenia (WAFSS). Standardized assessment of symptoms and functioning were used to examine the clinical profile and symptom co-occurrence of hallucinations over time. Results VH were approximately half as frequent as AH, almost always co-occurred with AH, and tended to be linked to a more severe psychopathological profile. AH and VH at baseline also predicted higher disability, risk of relapse and duration of psychosis after 1 and 2 years, especially when occurring in combination. Conclusions The findings point to three hallucination ‘subtypes’ with different symptom profile. The VH + AH combination signals greater psychopathology and a less favourable prognosis, than hallucinations occurring in isolation, and no hallucinations. This conclusion points to one common mechanism for all hallucinations, which can separate into distinct pathways and modalities. For a more complete clinical picture, clinicians should carefully probe for both auditory and VHs in presenting patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


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