Cross-cultural Differences in Hallucinations: A Comparison Between Middle Eastern and European Community-Based Samples

Salma M. Khaled*, Sanne G. Brederoo, Arij Yehya, Majid Alabdulla, Peter W. Woodruff, Iris E.C. Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS: While literature indicates that culture modulates phenomenological characteristics of hallucinations in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, little is known about the extent culture modulates these characteristics in nonclinical samples. STUDY DESIGN: We compared lifetime prevalence, age of onset, and phenomenology of hallucinations as assessed with the Questionnaire for Psychotic Experiences between samples of nonclinical participants used from the Netherlands (N = 2999) and Qatar (N = 2999). While participant recruitment differed between the 2 countries, the samples were relatively equal in terms of demographic factors. STUDY RESULTS: Our findings indicate that the lifetime prevalence of tactile and olfactory hallucinations are the same across countries. However, the prevalence of auditory hallucinations (AH) and visual hallucinations (VH) were twice as high in the Dutch sample. The reported age of onset for auditory and tactile hallucinations was younger for the Dutch sample. Findings from the measurement invariance supported cross-cultural comparisons with exception for duration, distress, and insight. Qatar's and Dutch participants reported similar valence and extent of interaction with AH and VH. However, compared to those in the Netherlands, participants from Qatar reported significantly more impact on daily functioning and a higher prevalence of receiving commands from hallucinations in the past week. CONCLUSIONS: While AH and VH were more often reported in the Dutch sample, participants in Qatar generally had higher mean factor scores for past week AH and VH than in the Netherlands. The phenomenology of hallucinations in the Qatar sample was of greater clinical relevance, with potentially important implications for early screening and prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S13-S24
Number of pages12
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2023


  • measurement invariance
  • Netherlands
  • phenomenology
  • prevalence
  • Qatar
  • Questionnaire of Psychotic Experiences

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