HealthDay News — Children involved in sibling bullying are at increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder, according to a study published online in Psychological Medicine.

Slava Dantchev, from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined 6988 participants of a UK community-based birth cohort. Sibling bullying was reported at 12 years, and psychotic disorder was assessed at age 18 years via semi-structured interview.

The researchers found that even after adjustment for a range of confounders, there was a correlation for involvement in sibling bullying with psychotic disorder in a dose-response manner. 

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The likelihood of meeting the criteria for a psychotic disorder was increased 2- to 3-fold for those involved in sibling bullying several times a week (OR: 2.74 for victimization, 3.16 for perpetration). In categorical analysis, the risk of psychotic disorder was increased for victims (OR, 3.1) and bully-victims (OR, 2.66). There was a dose-effect relationship for involvement in both sibling and peer bullying, with those victimized in both contexts experiencing even greater odds for psychotic disorder (OR, 4.57).

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“Our study adds that children involved in sibling bullying are at increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder, in keeping with findings for other kinds of stressors during childhood,” the authors wrote. “If causal, as suggested by our study, this highlights the need for parents and health professionals to identify and put into place mechanisms to minimize sibling bullying within families.”


Dantchev S, Zammit S, Wolke D. Sibling bullying in middle childhood and psychotic disorder at 18 years: a prospective cohort study [published online February 12, 2018]. Psychol Med. doi:10.1017/S0033291717003841