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Data Collection Procedures

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The 1975 data were collected by structured interviews of mothers completed in their homes by lay interviewers. Interviews generally took about one hour.  The T1 (1975) interview of mothers covered a broad range of child health, development, temperament, and problems as well as structural and functional information on the family.  Three coordinated forms of the interview covered the child ages of one year, 2-4 years, and 5-10 years, with the same overall content obtained by inquiries about age-appropriate behaviors.  All data collection, except as noted below, was carried out by in-person interviews by trained interviewers.

The data collection for the follow-up studies should be viewed in the context of the goal of increasing knowledge and understanding of influences on the onset and course of emotional and behavioral disorders in youth in the general population.  Thus, in addition to the diagnostic assessments most of the hypothesized influences or risks were assessed. The basic information from the T1 interview was sought at each of the follow-up interviews of mothers, with parallel questions asked of youth regarding their own behavior in T2 (1983), T3 (1986), and T4 (1992).  The Mother interview also included measures of her own personality and attitudes, additional measures of child rearing and parent-child relationship,  the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC), and service usage.  At T4, when the youth were an average of 22 years old, the DISC was dropped from the mother interview and a history of somatic and psychiatric disturbance for all family members was elicited.  The youth interviews were essentially similar at T2, T3, and T4.  It covered neighborhood and school environment and performance, personality and attitude measures, parenting and parent-child relationship, peer relationships, health, the DISC, and a test of verbal intelligence.  When youth left high school they were also interviewed on their residential, social, romantic, and work settings and status.  In all assessments data on youth drug use and abuse was collected.

At the time of the T3 assessments an additional assessment of 180 adolescent siblings of study youth were completed with the full protocol administered to youth and to the mothers.

Data collection when the sample was in their late 20's had three major components.  First, another in-person interview was completed on the full sample of youth, including parts of the CIDI diagnostic interview.  Second, 240 members of the sample were selected for detailed narrative interviews (see the Transition study, below). Third, a questionnaire covering aspects of adult roles and of recent problem behavior was administered.  In addition, arrest records were collected from the FBI and from New York State, with permission from sample members.

A sixth wave of in-person interviews of this cohort, now in their early 30's began in 2001 and was completed in 2005.  This protocol covers many of the variables in earlier interviews and features SCID screens for Axis 1 and Axis II psychiatric disorders, followed up by clinical interviews. 

A seventh wave of interviews, primarily by mail or on the internet began in 2006. For the first time we are collecting saliva samples for DNA analysis along with most of the items included in previous waves.

The Transition study

Link to Transitions Study training and coding manual

This study included detailed narratives of the period age 17 to 27, conducted soon after study participants reached the age of 27.  These data were collected in 3 to 5 hour telephone interviews carried out by extensively trained interviewers.  Respondents completed life charts in advance of the interviews, and provided month to month data on their status with regard to residence, financial support, school attendance, employment, romantic attachments, and family formation.  Additional qualitative, social, and life event variables were also coded.  The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of childhood and adolescent emotional and behavioral disorder on the transition to adulthood, effects of the transition to adulthood on diagnostic status in adulthood, and influences producing a turning point in the transition to adult status and behavior.

A second newly recruited sample provided parallel information on a prospective basis (three interviews at one-year intervals) and then  retrospective reports about the entire period.  The purpose of this sample was to determine the limitations and potential distortions present in purely retrospective reports.(See: Cohen, P, Kasen, S, Bifulco, A., Andrews, H., Gordon, K. (in press). The Accuracy of Narrative-Based Retrospective Narrative Reports of Developmental Trajectories. International Journal of Behavior Development.)

Offspring Study 

The Offspring Study follows the children born to the original subjects, now numbering 585 babies and young children. Started in 1986, the parents are contacted three times in the child's first year, by telephone and/or a half hour observation. A questionnaire is completed by the mother when the child is 18 months old. When the child is two years old, an extensive interview of the mother is supplemented by questionnaires completed by both the mother and father plus a one hour structured observation of the child by trained observers. Salivary cortisol assays are collected at the beginning and end of the observation period. Children are followed up again at age nine, with simultaneous 2 hour structured interviews with the young child and the mother and father.