Longitudinal studies: An essential component for complex psychiatric disorders

Melvin G. McInnis, John F. Greden

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    Most psychiatric syndromes are chronic and lifetime in course. Kraepelin's seminal work pointed out a century ago that longitudinal/lifetime assessments were powerful aids in differentiating dementia praecox from manic-depressive disorder. Despite this, clinical research investigations in psychiatry have historically emphasized short-term and cross-sectional approaches.This review of an array of longitudinal studies supports that they are arguably an essential component of psychiatric investigations, but that they must be coupled with other approaches. The use of standardized, validated, repeated assessments in a disease over the course of time must be incorporated with pathophysiology investigations to identify underlying mechanisms, biomarker studies, comparative effectiveness clinical trials to identify the best treatments for different causes, and translational strategies to provide the right treatments to the right patients at the right time. Strategies for incorporating longitudinal assessments into newer diagnostic proposals, such as the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)4-12
    Number of pages9
    JournalNeuroscience Research
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


    • Clinical psychiatry
    • Longitudinal research

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)


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