Psychiatric epidemiology: challenges and opportunities

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2007 Oct;19(5):509-21. doi: 10.1080/09540260701564914.


This paper discusses challenges and prospects for increasing the clinical relevance of psychiatric epidemiological research. The discussion begins with a review of the structural determinants of the fact that current psychiatric epidemiological research has less clinical relevance than epidemiological research in other areas of medicine. The discussion then turns to ways in which the focus of psychiatric epidemiological research might be changed to increase its clinical relevance. A review is then presented of recent innovations in community psychiatric epidemiological research that were designed to increase clinical relevance. An argument is then made that the full clinical value of psychiatric epidemiology will only be realized when community epidemiology becomes better integrated with clinical epidemiology and the latter takes on a more prominent role than it currently has in psychiatric research. Existing initiatives to realize an integration of community psychiatric epidemiology with clinical epidemiology are then reviewed. Finally, an agenda is proposed for an expansion of clinical psychiatric epidemiology to include a focus on both naturalistic and quasi-experimental studies of illness course and treatment response in diverse clinical samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Psychotic Disorders / classification*
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Research / economics
  • Research / trends*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • World Health Organization