Adults experiencing a psychotic disorder


Last updated 17 May 2019 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2014, a higher percentage of Black men than White men had experienced a psychotic disorder in the year before they were surveyed
  • there were no other meaningful differences between ethnic groups in people having experienced a psychotic disorder
Things you need to know

Because psychotic disorder is relatively uncommon, data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys undertaken in 2007 and 2014 have been combined to increase the number of positive cases for analysis.

The survey covers people aged 16 or older who live in private households. It doesn’t include those who live in institutional settings (such as hospitals or prisons) or in temporary housing (such as hostels or bed and breakfasts) or those who sleep rough. People living in such settings are likely to have worse mental health than those living in private households. There were 14,580 respondents for the 2007 and 2014 surveys combined.

Keep in mind when making comparisons between ethnic groups that all survey estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty as they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for minority ethnic groups.

Differences are statistically significant if the results for the 2 groups or time periods being compared are within entirely different ranges.

The ethnic groupings used here are broad; there is no breakdown of data for the more specific ethnic groups each contains. Some of the specific ethnic groups have very different experiences to one another. For example, the Black/Black British group could include both recent migrants from Somalia and Black people born in Britain to British parents.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people aged 16 and older in England who experienced a psychotic disorder in the year prior to the survey. The data source is the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) that was conducted in private households across England in 2007 and in 2014.

Psychotic disorders are mental problems that cause people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them, and may involve hallucinations or delusions. The main types of psychotic disorder are schizophrenia and affective psychosis. This measure does not include psychotic disorders such as those associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about detailed ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following broad groups, based on the ONS harmonised ethnic group questions for use on national surveys.

  • Asian/Asian British
  • Black/Black British
  • Mixed/Multiple and Other ethnicities
  • White (including White ethnic minorities)

2. By ethnicity and sex

Percentage of people aged 16 years and over who screened positive for a psychotic disorder in the past year by ethnicity and sex
Ethnicity All Men Women
Asian 0.9 1.3 0.4
Black 1.4 3.2 0.0
Mixed/Other 0.0 0.0 0.0
White 0.5 0.3 0.7

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and sex’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and sex’ (CSV)

Summary of Adults experiencing a psychotic disorder By ethnicity and sex Summary

This data shows that:

  • psychotic disorder was relatively uncommon among people from all ethnic groups in England in 2007 and 2014
  • a significantly higher percentage of Black men (3.2%) experienced a psychotic disorder in the past year than did White men (0.3%)
  • there were no other meaningful differences observed between other ethnic groups or between sexes in terms of people experiencing a psychotic disorder in the past year (this could be due to the small sample size even after combining 2 years of the survey)

3. Methodology

To estimate how prevalent psychotic disorders are among adults living in private households in England, a two-phase approach was used. This involved a phase 1 screen followed by a phase 2 clinical assessment for some of the participants whose experiences or symptoms might indicate psychosis. Participants eligible for phase 2 were identified by meeting one or more of the following screening criteria at the phase 1 interview:

  • currently taking any antipsychotic medication (orally or by injection)
  • reporting an inpatient stay for a mental or emotional problem in the past 3 months, or having been admitted to a hospital or ward specialising in mental health problems at any time
  • a positive response to question 5a (about auditory hallucinations) in the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ), a series of 5 probe and 5 secondary questions about mania, thought insertion, paranoia, strange experiences, and hallucinations in the past year
  • reporting symptoms suggestive of psychotic disorder (such as mood swings) and/or discussing such symptoms with a GP in the past year
  • indicating they have or have had psychotic disorder (in answer to a direct question added to APMS 2014 about whether a participant thought that they had ever had any of a list of psychiatric disorders)

Overall, 6% of participants reported at least one of the above that might indicate psychosis, and so were eligible for a phase 2 assessment. Not all, however, could be assessed at phase 2. A fifth (20%) of phase 1 participants refused to be contacted for a phase 2 interview, and of those advanced to phase 2 with at least one psychosis criterion, 27% refused and 6% were non-contacts. Because much was known about the characteristics of non-responders to phase 2, a complex psychosis-specific weighting strategy could be developed to address non-response bias.

For the identification of psychotic disorder in the past year the following approach was used:

  • for those who screened positive for psychosis at phase 1 and then had an assessment with a trained interviewer (a psychologist, for example), the results of the assessment were used
  • for those who screened negative for psychosis at phase 1, it was assumed that these were true negatives regardless of whether or not a further assessment was completed
  • for those who screened positive for psychosis at phase 1 but did not have a further assessment (due to refusal or non-contact, for example) a weighting strategy was applied to take account of non-response.

The weighting strategy meant that the assessment results for the participants assessed at phase 2 were weighted to reflect the profile of all participants identified as eligible. For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know is around 50% male and 50% female. By adjusting the results of a survey in this way to make them representative of the population, weighting improves the accuracy of the results.

The achieved response rate (57%) is in line with that of similar surveys (Barnes et al. 2010; cited in APMS 2014).

The ‘Methods’ chapter of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 (PDF opens in a new window or tab) includes more detailed information on the weighting used.

The use of a survey to assess mental health conditions is not as reliable as a diagnosis made using a clinical interview. The assessments used have been validated, however, and are among the best available.

The survey covers people who live in private households. It doesn’t include those who live in institutional settings (such as hospitals or prisons) or in temporary housing (such as hostels or bed and breakfasts) or those who sleep rough. People living in such settings are likely to have worse mental health than those living in private households (Gill et al. 1996; cited in APMS 2014).

Where a selected participant could not take part in a long interview due to a physical or mental health condition, some information about this was recorded by the interviewer on the doorstep. This information may be biased due to it having been collected from another household member.

Socially undesirable or stigmatised feelings and behaviours may be underreported. While this is a risk for any study based on self-report data, the study goes some way to minimising this by collecting particularly sensitive information in a self-completion format.

Confidence intervals

The confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available in the ‘download the data’ section.

0.3% of White men surveyed screened positive for psychotic disorder. This is a reliable estimate of the percentage of White British men in England who are likely to screen positive for psychotic disorder. However, because the APMS results are based on a random sample of people aged 16 or older, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 0.2% and 0.6% of all White men in England would screen positive for psychotic disorder. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall between the lower and upper bounds of the confidence interval. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.

The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, fewer men from the Black/Black British ethnic group were sampled for this survey than White men, so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group. This greater uncertainty is expressed by the wider confidence interval of between 1.1% and 9.0%.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Risk to disclosure has been accounted for with limitations of the level of disaggregation, size of category groupings, and the maintaining of large underlying populations for analysis. No further suppression or other disclosure control has been applied.


Percentages have been rounded to one decimal point.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

APMS 2014 Background Data Quality Statement (PDF)

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


NHS Digital

Publication frequency

Every 7 years (further publications dependent on further surveys being commissioned)

Purpose of data source

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey provides data on the prevalence of treated and untreated psychiatric disorders in English adults aged 16 and over.

5. Download the data

APMS_Psychotic_Disorder - Spreadsheet (csv) 1 KB

The percentage of adults screening positive for psychotic disorder in England in 2007 and 2014 combined with 95% confidence intervals provided for the estimates for both genders combined and males (due to the significant result for Black men).