Cross-country variations in the reporting of psychotic symptoms among sub-Saharan African adults: A psychometric evaluation of the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire

Mary Bitta, Yanga Thungana, Hannah H. Kim, Christy A. Denckla, Amantia Ametaj, Mahlet Yared, Claire Kwagala, Linnet Ongeri, Rocky E. Stroud, Edith Kwobah, Karestan C. Koenen, Symon Kariuki, Zukiswa Zingela, Dickens Akena, Charles Newton, Lukoye Atwoli, Solomon Teferra, Dan J. Stein, Bizu Gelaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Self-reporting of psychotic symptoms varies significantly between cultures and ethnic groups. Yet, limited validated screening instruments are available to capture such differences in the African continent. Methodology: Among 9,059 individuals participating as controls in a multi-country case–control study of the genetic causes of psychosis, we evaluated the psychometric properties of the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ). We applied multi-group confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory to assess item parameters. Results: The overall positive endorsement of at least one item assessing psychotic symptoms on the PSQ was 9.7%, with variability among countries (Uganda 13.7%, South Africa 11%, Kenya 10.2%, and Ethiopia 2.8%). A unidimensional model demonstrated good fit for the PSQ (root mean square error of approximation = 0.009; comparative fit index = 0.997; and Tucker-Lewis Index = 0.995). Hypomania had the weakest association with single latent factor (standardized factor loading 0.62). Sequential multi-group confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that PSQ items were measured in equivalent ways across the four countries. PSQ items gave more information at higher levels of psychosis, with hypomania giving the least discriminating information. Limitations: Participants were recruited from general medical facilities, so findings may not be generalizable to the general population. Conclusion: The PSQ demonstrated a unidimensional factor structure in these samples. Items were measured equivalently across all study settings, suggesting that differences in prevalence of psychotic symptoms between countries were less likely to represent measurement artifact. The PSQ is more reliable in screening for psychosis in individuals with higher degrees of psychotic experiences—hypomania excluded—and might decrease the false-positive rate from mild nonspecific psychotic experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • Psychosis
  • assessment
  • screening
  • sub-Saharan Africa


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