Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Li-Ching Lee & Rebecca Harrington & William W. Eaton
Psychiatric epidemiology is the study of distribution, determinants, and causes of psychiatric conditions or mental health in human populations. The term psychiatric epidemiology wasfirstcoinedatthe1949 Annual Conference of the Milbank Memorial Fund and was later documented in a Milbank Memorial Fund publication in 1950. Long before then, however, studies of mental health in populations had been conducted. Edward Jarvis, a mid-19th-century physician, described the distribution of ‘insanity’ and ‘idiocy’ and health care utilization in a wide range of facilities in Massachusetts from 1850 through 1855. This period marks the beginning of descriptive epidemiology where focused efforts were being made to describe disease distribution in the population. Not long after, psychiatric research began to use analytical epidemiology techniques as well. With methods still in use today, researchers examined hypotheses using various study designs, such as case-control and cohort studies, aimed to understand the nature, etiology, and prognosis of mental disorders. Psychiatric disorders ...