Clinical correlates of olfactory hallucinations in schizophrenia

Robyn Langdon*, Jonathan McGuire, Richard Stevenson, Stanley V. Catts

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives. Olfactory hallucinations (OHs) are underrepresented in conventional clinical instruments, infrequently researched, and poorly understood. To advance understanding of OHs, we examined their past-month prevalence and co-occurring symptoms in two datasets. Design. One dataset comprised categorical codes and was examined using homogeneity analysis and logistic regression; the other dataset comprised numeric ratings and was examined using principal components analyses and linear regression. Method. The two datasets included: (1) 962 cases with Present State Examination - 9th Edition (PSE-9), codes (recoded present/absent) from the World Health Organization 10 Country (WHO-10) Study and (2) 265 cases with ratings on Scales for Assessing Positive/Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia (SAPS/SANS). Two PSE-9 items (external- and self-smells) were recoded into a single OH item to examine consistency with the SAPS/SANS dataset, which contained a single OH item. Results. Prevalence of OHs and hallucinations in other modalities differed according to the WHO-10 international centre. Across centres, OHs were present in 13% of the WHO-10 dataset, similar to the 17% prevalence rate in the SAPS/SANS dataset. Referential/control delusions and other hallucinations (particularly, somatic/tactile/gustatory hallucinations) were significant independent correlates of OHs in both datasets. OHs also co-occurred with social anxiety and depression in the WHO-10 dataset, with self-smells being particularly associated with self-depreciation. Conclusions. Sociocultural factors may modulate the self-reporting and/or detection of OHs and hallucinations in other modalities. Referential/control delusions promote the generation and/or maintenance of OHs independent of factors shared with other hallucinations. OHs and hallucinations of taste, touch, and bodily sensation frequently co-occur. Self-smells warrant sensitive probing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-163
    Number of pages19
    JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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