Epidemiology of psychiatric disability in childhood and adolescence

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2001 Oct;42(7):901-14. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00786.


The goal of the study was to ascertain the factor structure and prevalence of psychiatric disability in children and adolescents in relation to demographic variables and diagnosis. A representative sample of 1,420 children (9-13 years) from 11 countries in North Carolina was followed for up to 6 years. Children and caretakers were interviewed with the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment, which generates DSM-IV diagnoses and includes a measure of disability secondary to psychological symptoms. Three broad areas of disability were identified (relating to family, school, and peers). School disabilities were more common in boys than girls. while the reverse was true of family disability. Effects of age were complex, and partially gender-differentiated. Children from minority ethnic groups had a higher overall prevalence of school disabilities, and were more prone than Whites to the disabling effects of disruptive behavior disorders. Anxiety disorders were as likely to result in disability as depressive disorders, and oppositional defiant disorders were more strongly associated with disability in some areas than was conduct disorder. The areas where disability is manifested are different depending on race, gender, age, and the type of disorder suffered. The implications of these findings for nosology and prevention are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution