Psychotic Experiences in the Context of Police Victimization: Data from the Survey of Police-Public Encounters
Social defeat has been proposed as the common mechanism underlying several well-replicated risk factors for sub-threshold psychotic experiences (PEs) identified in epidemiological research. Victimization by the police may likewise be socially defeating among vulnerable individuals and, therefore, may be associated with elevated risk for PEs. However, no prior studies have examined the relation between police victimization and PEs. We tested the hypothesis that exposure to police victimization (i.e., physical, sexual, psychological, and neglect) would be associated with increased odds for PEs in the Survey of Police–Public Encounters data (N = 1615), a general population sample of adults from 4 US cities. Respondents who reported each type of police victimization were more likely to report PEs in logistic regression analyses (all P < .01), most of which were significant even when adjusting for demographic variables, psychological distress, and self-reported crime involvement (adjusted OR range: 1.30 to 7.16). Furthermore, the prevalence of PEs increased with greater exposure to police victimization in a linear dose-response relation, OR (95% CI) = 1.44 (1.24–1.66). These findings suggest that police victimization is a clinically important and previously unreported risk factor for PEs in the urban US population. These findings support the need for community-based outreach efforts and greater police training to reduce the prevalence of this exposure, particularly in socially disadvantaged urban communities.