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A Longitudinal Study of Mental Health

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The Children in the Community study began following over 800 children in 1975 and has continued for twenty-nine years. The study goals include assessment of emotional and behavioral problems of childhood, and how children and families cope with these problems. Problems with drugs and alcohol have been a particular focus in recent years. Current  funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse supports a seventh round of interviews with the study participants who are now, on average, about 38 years old.

The study sample is a representative cross-section of the area from which it was chosen in 1975.

wpe10.jpg (14493 bytes) The Albany skyline across the Hudson River

Study participants originally resided in Albany & Saratoga Counties in up-state New York

Saratoga County has more small towns and rural areas. wpe1.jpg (17148 bytes) This major study tells a great deal about the prevalence of various mental health problems, the risk factors that make such problems more likely, and the outcomes in adulthood. To date, over 190 professional papers explore the findings in professional journals and books. The study has also resulted in methodological innovations in the study of children and the analysis of longitudinal data.

Several smaller studies have built on the study of the entire sample. Over 200 of the children of the original participants were studied in the Offspring Study. 180 siblings agreed to participate. 240 people completed lengthy narrative interviews discussing the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Most participants completed a questionnaire on experiences that may be associated with young adult financial difficulties, aggression, and criminal behaviors.

Profound thanks

This wealth of information would not be possible without the cooperation of the study participants and their families. Profound thanks are due for the many hours of their time and their permission to them ask endless questions over the years. Without their help, this major scientific investigation of human development would be impossible.

The Principal Investigators are Drs. Patricia Cohen (New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University) and Judith Brook (New York University Medical School). The study has been funded by the National Institute for Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Justice, and the William T. Grant Foundation.