Psychosis in children of separated parents: A systematic review and meta-analysis
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Background. Parental separation is a very common childhood adversity. The association between other adverse childhood experiences and an increased risk of psychosis has been reported. However, the evidence on the risk of psychosis for children of separated parents is limited. In this systematic review, cohort, case–control, and cross-sectional studies, comparing the risk of psychotic disorders for people with and without separated parents, were searched, critically appraised, and summarized. Methods. Studies were searched in PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and the Web of Science, from database inception to September 2019. A meta-analysis, using random-effects models, was undertaken to obtain pooled estimates of the risk of psychosis among participants with separated parents. Results. Twelve studies, with 305,652 participants from 22 countries, were included in the review. A significantly increased risk of psychosis for those with separated parents was observed, with a pooled odds ratio: 1.53 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.29–1.76), p < 0.001. The association remained significant when cohort, case–control, and cross-sectional studies were analyzed separately. The five cohort studies included in this review showed and increased risk of psychosis with odds ratio: 1.47 (95% CI: 1.26–1.69), p < 0.001. Conclusions. Parental separation is a common childhood adversity associated with an increased risk of psychosis. Although the risk for an individual child of separated parents is still low, given the high proportion of couple that separate, the increased rates of psychosis may be substantial in the population. Further studies on the risk of psychosis in those with separated parents, and the explanatory factors for this association, are required.