Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

The family history method: whose psychiatric history is measured?
Am J Psychiatry 1991;148:1501-1504.
text A A A
PDF of the full text article.

OBJECTIVE: The family history method, in which an informant is asked about the history of psychiatric illness in relatives, is widely used in psychiatric research. Previous research has examined the influence on family history information of characteristics of the relative. In this report, the authors seek to clarify the impact on family history reporting of the psychiatric history of the informant. METHOD: Both members of female twin pairs from a population-based twin registry were asked about the history of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and alcoholism in their mother and father. The authors examined twin pairs discordant for each of the three diagnoses and predicted that the affected twin would report higher rates of the same disorder in her parent than would the unaffected twin. RESULTS: Twins with a history of major depression or generalized anxiety disorder but not twins with alcoholism were significantly more likely to report the same disorder in their parents than were their unaffected co-twins. CONCLUSIONS: For major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, a family history diagnosis appears to reflect the psychiatric history of both the relative and the informant. Caution may be needed in the interpretation of results based on the family history method, although the magnitude of this problem may be attenuated by the use of multiple informants.

Abstract Teaser
Figures in this Article

Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).




CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Web of Science® Times Cited: 138

Related Content
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th Edition > Chapter 1.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 5.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 5.  >
DSM-5™ Clinical Cases > Chapter 7.  >
APA Practice Guidelines > Chapter 0.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
PubMed Articles