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September 1997

Child Psychiatric Disorder: Measures, Causal Mechanisms, and Interventions

Author Affiliations

Medical Research Council Child Psychiatry Unit Institute of Psychiatry De Crespigny Park London SE5 8AF England

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(9):785-789. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830210021002

DURING RECENT decades there has been a spectacular burgeoning of research into child psychiatric disorders. The results have changed clinical practice in child psychiatry1 and have done much to aid understanding of the childhood roots of some adult psychiatric disorders.2 The set of 12 articles in this issue of the Archives illustrate well the accomplishments and the serious challenges that remain. They cover a wide territory, but their key messages may be summarized under the headings of measurement, causal mechanisms, and therapeutic interventions.

MEASUREMENT  Psychiatric research continues to be troubled by difficulties in measurement.3 At one time, many investigators thought that the use of standardized interviews and operationalized criteria for diagnosis would solve the problems, but it is evident that they have not. The study by Boyle et al4 is helpful in focusing on the relative merits and demerits of structured respondent-based interviews and checklists. They conclude that there is