Loneliness and psychotic experiences among US university students: Findings from the Healthy Minds Study 2020

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Psychiatry Research






Delusions; Hallucinations; Loneliness; Psychosis; Student mental health


Loneliness and psychotic experiences (PEs) are common in university students. Despite this, little information is available on the association between loneliness and PEs in this population. In the present study, we studied 30,529 individuals from the Fall semester cohort of the 2020 Healthy Minds Study, a cross-sectional, web-based survey examining mental health and related factors in undergraduate and graduate students aged 18 years or older. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate associations between loneliness (exposure) and PEs (outcome). Loneliness was significantly associated with increased odds of any PEs (odds ratio, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.29–1.36), adjusting for age, gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and international student status. This relationship was consistent across the subtypes of PEs, i.e., delusions (odds ratio, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.29–1.36) and hallucinations (odds ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.21–1.34), adjusting for the same covariates. We found that loneliness is consistently associated with PEs across different subtypes in a university population sample. Future studies may consider testing whether interventions to reduce loneliness among young adults and university students can have an impact on PEs.