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Epidemiological Approaches to Developmental Psychopathology

Michael Rutter, FRS
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(5):486-495. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800290106013.
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• Developmental psychopathology as a research approach draws on both developmental and psychopathologic perspectives to tackle questions about causal mechanisms. Developmental perspectives are discussed in terms of the implications that flow from age differences in prevalence, age trends in remission of disorders, developmental appropriateness of psychiatric conditions, continuities and discontinuities in psychopathology between childhood and adult life, and age differences in the effects of psychiatric risk factors. Psychopathologic perspectives are considered in terms of continuities and discontinuities between normality and pathology and the contrasts between pervasive and situation-specific disorders, and by the differences between single variables and behavioral composites. The use of epidemiological data to examine causal processes is discussed, with attention to the need to consider development in its social context and to examine indirect, as well as direct, causal chains of connection.

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