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Contribution of Epidemiology to Our Understanding of Psychiatric Genetics 

Contribution of Epidemiology to Our Understanding of Psychiatric Genetics
Contribution of Epidemiology to Our Understanding of Psychiatric Genetics

Alison K. Merikangas

and Kathleen R. Merikangas

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date: 17 May 2022

The field of psychiatric epidemiology has advanced both methodological and substantive knowledge in our understanding of mental disorders through the following contributions: (1) development of standardized tools that operationalize diagnostic criteria in order to obtain reliable estimates; (2) estimation of the magnitude, correlates and service patterns of mental disorders; (3) documentation of patterns of comorbidity; (4) quantification of disability attributable to mental disorders; and (5) identification of risk and protective factors for mental disorders and their core domains. Community surveys using standardized tools for ascertaining psychiatric disorders have shown that mental disorders are highly prevalent in the general population. With the growing success in identifying genetic risk factors for chronic human disorders, the field of epidemiology will play an important role in defining study designs, appropriate samples, population generalizability, and statistical tools that will facilitate our ability to identify the joint influence of genetic and environmental factors on the susceptibility to mental disorders.

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