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October 25, 1985


JAMA. 1985;254(16):2280-2283. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360160112026

The past year has produced advances in several important areas of psychiatric epidemiology, or what could be called "macro" psychiatry. These developments provide empirical data that refine the general recognition of psychiatric disorders as a common cause of morbidity in the community and in medical practice. The new data also reinforce the notion that epidemiology makes a vital contribution to the "logical infrastructure of the clinical method."1

The preliminary results of the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiological Catchment Area (ECA) program published in the October 1984 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry constitute a landmark in psychiatric epidemiology and psychiatric research in general.2 Several aspects of this program make it exceptional.3 First, the scope of the study is unprecedented: about 17,000 community residents were interviewed in five different sites (New Haven, Conn; Baltimore; St Louis; North Carolina; and Los Angeles) to obtain a representative sample