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Online Discussions

Updated 24 May 2007
Printable version

Live Discussion: The New Epidemiology of Schizophrenia

John McGrath

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Epidemiologists have offered no shortage of leads to the etiology of schizophrenia, but it is no easy task to turn these findings into practical use—either for prevention or treatment. On 11 April, John McGrath of the University of Queensland, Australia, led us in a discussion of the challenges of turning epidemiologic data into new ideas for prevention and treatment. As we await the transcript posting, we invite you to read two of his recent editorials, from Schizophrenia Bulletin and the Archives of General Psychiatry. Please also read and respond to the comments left below.

Our special thanks to the Archives of General Psychiatry for granting open access to this editorial:

McGrath JJ. The surprisingly rich contours of schizophrenia epidemiology. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;64(1):14-6. View article

John J McGrath. Variations in the Incidence of Schizophrenia: Data Versus Dogma. Schizophr Bull, January 2006; 32: 195-197. View article

View Transcript of Live Discussion — Posted 24 May 2007

View Comments By:
Jim van Os — Posted 4 April 2007
James Kirkbride — Posted 5 April 2007
Jean-Paul Selten — Posted 5 April 2007
Craig Morgan — Posted 9 April 2007
Jonathan Burns — Posted 9 April 2007
Brian Chiko — Posted 10 April 2007
Fuller Torrey — Posted 10 April 2007
Assen Jablensky — Posted 10 April 2007
Jean-Paul Selten — Posted 10 April 2007
Paul Fearon — Posted 10 April 2007
Dana March — Posted 10 April 2007
— Posted 10 April 2007
Sukanta Saha, Saha Sukanta — Posted 11 April 2007
Joy Welham — Posted 11 April 2007
Vera A. Morgan — Posted 11 April 2007
Robert Yolken — Posted 11 April 2007
Preben Bo Mortensen — Posted 11 April 2007
Paul Patterson — Posted 11 April 2007
Patricia Estani — Posted 18 April 2007
Jan van Dijk — Posted 30 April 2007
David Yates — Posted 23 May 2007
Petar Marinov — Posted 29 May 2007
Huda Shalhoub — Posted 13 March 2009

Background Text
By John McGrath

If forgetting that schizophrenia was a brain disease was one of the great aberrations of twentieth-century medicine, ignoring variations in the incidence of schizophrenia must rank as one of the great aberrations of modern epidemiology. However, research has recently provided us with data that cannot be ignored. The incidence of schizophrenia varies widely among sites, and varies according to a range of demographic variables including sex, urbanicity of place of birth/residence, paternal age, season of birth, and migrant status. High-quality prospective cohort studies have also strengthened the case that cannabis is a risk-modifying factor for schizophrenia.

The target articles outline some of the major features of the “new epidemiology” of schizophrenia. The commentary in the Archives of General Psychiatry canvasses various options about how to get the best “bang for our buck” from future epidemiological studies. It is argued that the clues being generated by schizophrenia epidemiology are too important to ignore.

The discussion will be broad-ranging, and we encourage the readers of Schizophrenia Research Forum to contribute topics for discussion and debate prior to the Live Discussion. For example:

1. What type of epidemiological research needs to be done now?

2. How can we avoid “circular epidemiology” where research perseverates at the ecological level, and fails to move to more refined analytic methods or experimental studies?

3. How can we engage neuroscience in helping to unravel the clues emerging from epidemiology?

Comments on Online Discussion
Comment by:  Jim van Os
Submitted 4 April 2007 Posted 4 April 2007

John makes some excellent points, and his papers help us...  Read more

View all comments by Jim van Os

Comment by:  James Kirkbride
Submitted 5 April 2007 Posted 5 April 2007

The variation in incidence rates from epidemiological...  Read more

View all comments by James Kirkbride

Comment by:  Jean-Paul Selten
Submitted 5 April 2007 Posted 5 April 2007

The points made by John are timely and excellent indeed. I...  Read more

View all comments by Jean-Paul Selten

Comment by:  Craig Morgan
Submitted 9 April 2007 Posted 9 April 2007

The variations in the incidence and prevalence of...  Read more

View all comments by Craig Morgan

Comment by:  Jonathan Burns
Submitted 5 April 2007 Posted 9 April 2007

Exposing the myth of constant prevalence and incidence...  Read more

View all comments by Jonathan Burns

Comment by:  Brian Chiko
Submitted 10 April 2007 Posted 10 April 2007

At (a non-profit, family oriented...  Read more

View all comments by Brian Chiko

Comment by:  Fuller Torrey
Submitted 10 April 2007 Posted 10 April 2007

John McGrath has made a major contribution to the...  Read more

View all comments by Fuller Torrey

Comment by:  Assen Jablensky
Submitted 10 April 2007 Posted 10 April 2007

I have decided to play the role of advocatus...  Read more

View all comments by Assen Jablensky

Comment by:  Jean-Paul Selten
Submitted 10 April 2007 Posted 10 April 2007

We complain that fixed ideas about the epidemiology of...  Read more

View all comments by Jean-Paul Selten

Comment by:  Paul Fearon
Submitted 10 April 2007 Posted 10 April 2007

I agree with many of the comments already made.

I do...  Read more

View all comments by Paul Fearon

Comment by:  Dana March
Submitted 10 April 2007 Posted 10 April 2007

John McGrath asserts that we must be "slaves to the data"...  Read more

View all comments by Dana March

Comment by:  Sukanta SahaSaha Sukanta
Submitted 11 April 2007 Posted 11 April 2007

The variation in the incidence of schizophrenia is now...  Read more

View all comments by Sukanta Saha
View all comments by Saha Sukanta

Comment by:  Joy Welham
Submitted 11 April 2007 Posted 11 April 2007

There have been some varied and interesting comments about...  Read more

View all comments by Joy Welham

Comment by:  Vera A. Morgan
Submitted 11 April 2007 Posted 11 April 2007

An issue of critical importance, and relevant to comments...  Read more

View all comments by Vera A. Morgan

Comment by:  Robert Yolken
Submitted 11 April 2007 Posted 11 April 2007

The question of whether one can develop animal models for...  Read more

View all comments by Robert Yolken

Comment by:  Preben Bo Mortensen
Submitted 11 April 2007 Posted 11 April 2007

I think Assen Jablensky's concerns regarding the potential...  Read more

View all comments by Preben Bo Mortensen

Comment by:  Paul Patterson
Submitted 11 April 2007 Posted 11 April 2007

Regarding the question of whether there are useful...  Read more

View all comments by Paul Patterson

Comment by:  Patricia Estani
Submitted 12 April 2007 Posted 18 April 2007

I would like to agree with two points from Dr. Jablensy's...  Read more

View all comments by Patricia Estani

Comment by:  Jan van Dijk
Submitted 27 April 2007 Posted 30 April 2007

The papers of McGrath reminded us that the incidence of...  Read more

View all comments by Jan van Dijk

Comment by:  David Yates
Submitted 23 May 2007 Posted 23 May 2007

A few comments from a clinician and a carer.

Is...  Read more

View all comments by David Yates

Comment by:  Petar Marinov
Submitted 27 May 2007 Posted 29 May 2007

The discussion is very interesting. From a forensic point...  Read more

View all comments by Petar Marinov

Comment by:  Huda Shalhoub
Submitted 4 March 2009 Posted 13 March 2009

The discussions set forth have been well expressed in...  Read more

View all comments by Huda Shalhoub
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