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From psychiatric epidemiology to psychiatric epidemiologies: using historical, epistemic and social perspectives to bridge research and public health

Conférence organisée par Anne Lovell (Cermes3) and Steeves Demazeux (Université Bordeaux Montaigne) avec le soutien du Cermes3, de l'Inserm, de l'European Research Council, de l'Agence nationale de la recherche, de l'université de Columbia, du laboratoire SPH et de l'Université Bordeaux Montaigne.

Du 15 au 17 novembre 2016

Fondation Brocher, Genève, Suisse

Although the relevance and crucial importance of epidemiological studies to contemporary psychiatric research and practice are undeniable, they still raise fundamental problems that two transformative periods in psychiatric epidemiology have yet to resolve. The first period (1960-1980s) developed tools for population-based, standardized surveys and introduced risk factor analysis; the second (1990s-present) developed global metrics and disability measures for estimating the burden of psychiatric disorders relative to all diseases, physical and otherwise, at a global level. We have identified three series of problems which can benefit from an interdisciplinary reflection.

1) The “reification problem” of mental disorders which arises when diagnostic categories fail to keep up with scientific advances in genetics, neurosciences and psychology, yet methodological tools like reliability studies and regulatory and funding agencies reinforce the use of faulty categories.

2) The context problem involves the local meanings, geographical and social specificity undermine epidemiological  generalizations, especially those generated from utilization of the new global metrics.

3) Finally, the problem of one versus a plurality of psychiatric epidemiologies addresses whether psychiatric epidemiological models can be informed by other subfields and models in epidemiology in the face of the research-to-treatment lag, globalization of public health and increasing health disparities.

Psychiatric epidemiology provides the bridge between upstream translations from genetics, neuroscientific, psychological and downstream development of public health policy and mental health services for all vulnerable groups. We are proposing an inter- disciplinary Brocher workshop, building on our preliminary historical and epistemic examinations of psychiatric epidemiology (published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, 2014) to address the philosophical, conceptual and practical problems raised by the origins and transformations of contemporary psychiatric epidemiology.

Program