Assessment of the Role of IQ in Associations Between Population Density and Deprivation and Nonaffective Psychosis

Gemma Lewis*, Jennifer Dykxhoorn, Håkan Karlsson, Golam M Khandaker, Glyn Lewis, Christina Dalman, James B Kirkbride

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Importance: Being born or raised in more densely populated or deprived areas is associated with increased risk of nonaffective psychosis in adulthood, but few studies to date have examined the role of general cognitive ability in these associations.

Objective: To investigate whether lower IQ contributed to the association between population density or deprivation and nonaffective psychosis (mediation) and whether these associations were stronger in people with lower IQ (effect modification).

Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study evaluated a population-based sample of men born in Sweden from January 1, 1982, to December 31, 1988, and conscripted into military service at 18 years of age. Data were collected from January 1, 1982, to December 31, 2016, and analyzed from May 1 to December 31, 2018.

Exposures: Continuous measures of small area-level population density (persons per square kilometer) and socioeconomic deprivation at birth. Deprivation was based on area-level social, criminal, and unemployment data. IQ was assessed during conscription at 18 years of age (mean [SD] IQ, 100 [15]).

Main Outcomes and Measures: First diagnosis of International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, nonaffective psychosis from 18 years of age until December 31, 2016, recorded in the National Patient Register.

Results: The study sample included a total of 227 429 men who were classified as at risk of psychosis from 18 years of age until the end of follow-up. Of these, 1596 men (0.7%) were diagnosed with nonaffective psychosis. After adjustments for confounders, odds of nonaffective psychosis increased per 1-SD increase in population density (odds ratio [OR], 1.07; 95% CI, 1.04-1.14) and deprivation (OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.13) at birth. IQ was negatively associated with deprivation after adjustments (effect estimate per 1-SD increase in deprivation: -0.70 points; 95% CI, -0.78 to -0.62 points) but not with population density. In mediation analyses, based on the potential outcome framework, 23% (95% CI, 17%-49%) of the total effect of deprivation on nonaffective psychosis was mediated by IQ. IQ did not modify associations between deprivation or population density and nonaffective psychosis.

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that being born in more deprived neighborhoods may partly increase risk of nonaffective psychosis through subsequent effects on cognitive development, consistent with the wider literature on neurodevelopmental delays associated with psychotic disorder. Identifying factors in deprived environments that give rise to this process could inform public health strategies to prevent nonaffective psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-736
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Population Density
  • Poverty/statistics & numerical data
  • Psychotic Disorders/epidemiology
  • Registries/statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics/statistics & numerical data
  • Sweden/epidemiology
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessment of the Role of IQ in Associations Between Population Density and Deprivation and Nonaffective Psychosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this