11. Peering into the Future of Psychiatric Epidemiology

  1. Ming T. Tsuang3,4,
  2. Mauricio Tohen5,6 and
  3. Peter B. Jones7
  1. Michaeline Bresnahan1,2,
  2. Ezra Susser1,2,
  3. Dana March1,2 and
  4. Bruce Link1,2

Published Online: 14 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470976739.ch11

Textbook of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Third Edition

Textbook of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Third Edition

How to Cite

Bresnahan, M., Susser, E., March, D. and Link, B. (2011) Peering into the Future of Psychiatric Epidemiology, in Textbook of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Third Edition (eds M. T. Tsuang, M. Tohen and P. B. Jones), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470976739.ch11

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Center for Behavioral Genomics, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla CA 92039, USA

  2. 4

    Harvard Institute of Psychiatric Epidemiology & Genetics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA

  3. 5

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Centre at San Antonio, USA

  4. 6

    Division of Mood and Anxiety Disorders, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7526 Louis Pasteur Drive, San Antonio TX 78229-3900, USA

  5. 7

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Box 189, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, Department of Epidemiology, 600 West 168th Street, New York NY 10032, USA

  2. 2

    New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 15 APR 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470694671

Online ISBN: 9780470976739



  • peering into future of psychiatric epidemiology - a great deal to psychiatric research;
  • uses of epidemiology - rapidly emerging, not fully established;
  • crucible for development of epidemiology - the Industrial Revolution in England, early nineteenth century;
  • epidemiology of sanitary era - development of a new science, microbiology;
  • levels of causation, and concept of levels of causation - in epidemiology;
  • core idea in reasoning about contexts - moving up from individual to higher levels of organisation;
  • causation over (life) time - epidemiologists, life course perspective on disease causation;
  • hypothesis, excess risk of schizophrenia - associated with older fathers, being mutagenesis;
  • mechanism(s) by which ethnic density operate - attenuating rates of schizophrenia, remaining elusive;
  • causation, rarely immediate - relevant causal factors


Epidemiology has already contributed a great deal to psychiatric research. The discipline has been used extensively for studying the frequency of mental disorders in communities across the world, establishing the enormous burden of illness associated with these disorders and identifying their causes and consequences. In the past decade, the extension of epidemiologic risk factor methods to genetic studies has further opened a new and exciting realm for the use of epidemiology in psychiatric research [1]. Yet we have utilised only one small part of the potential contributions of epidemiology.

In this chapter, we describe uses of epidemiology that are rapidly emerging but not fully established. Peering into the future, we anticipate that these applications will be increasingly adapted for psychiatric research in the coming decades. Among the salient developments are that epidemiologists increasingly focus on studying multiple levels of causation, the trajectory of health and illness over the life course and the interplay of genes and environment [2]. We discuss the first two, and interweave the third (interplay of genes and environment) into our examples insofar as possible.