Psychiatric Epidemiology


Group head: Henning Tiemeier

' Psychiatric epidemiology offers opportunities to explore questions about who gets ill and why, and to suggest methods for improving the mental health of society', Lee N. Robins, 1978

Often, psychiatric epidemiology is restricted to measuring the prevalence of mental illness in society. Descriptive studies are important for social policy and to generate hypotheses, but if one studies only the sick, the opportunities to understand mental illness are very limited. Modern psychiatric epidemiology shows how the frequency of psychiatric problems varies in groups identified by education, genetic variation, brain morphology or temperament. This approach has become the main scientific foundation of psychiatry.

The Psychiatric Epidemiology in Rotterdam is analytical epidemiology of common psychiatric problems in childhood and late adult life. All ongoing projects are conducted in large populations-based cohorts, in particular the Generation R Study and the Rotterdam Study.

Generation R 
As part of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Psychiatric Epidemiology Group conducts child emotional and behavioural as well as cognitive research in the Generation R birth cohort study. Nearly 10,000 pregnant women were included in Generation R between 2003 and 2005 and since, the mothers and their children are followed. Together with several external partners, we introduced innovative child assessments to this large-scale behaviour study. The measures include postnatal ultrasound of the brain, Strange Situation Procedure to assess mother-infant attachment, standardized neuromotor assessment, a home environment observation and several executive function measures.
The aim of the psychiatric research in The Generation R Study is to investigate the development of common emotional and behavioural problems. Much of the research takes a neurodevelopmental perspective and examines how social, psychological and biological risk factors during foetal or early postnatal life contribute to the onset of problem behaviour.

Rotterdam Study
As part of the Department of Epidemiology, the Psychiatric Epidemiology Group investigates common psychiatric problems of the elderly. Research is conducted in the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort of the inhabitants of a district of Rotterdam aged 55 years and above. Ongoing since 1990, the cohort was extended twice and now includes nearly 15,000 persons. The focus has been on determinants and consequences of depressive disorders but anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances and complicated grief are also being studied. A particular research interest has been vascular depression assessed with different measures of atherosclerosis, arterial stiffness and cerebral blood flow. In ongoing projects, diurnal patterns of cortisol secretion, sleep fragmentation, genetic variations and brain morphology are studied. Current data collection also includes a dexamethasone suppression test to measure hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in all participants, which is unique in a large population-based study.

Research group Generation R
- Basten, Maartje
- Bondaruk, Marina
- Dierckx, Bram
- Graaff, Jolien de
- Jansen, Pauline
- Kok, Rianne
- Lucassen, Nicole
- Luijk, Maartje
- Marroun, Hanan El
- Mil, Nina van
- Mous, Sabine
- Rijlaarsdam, Jolien

Research group Rotterdam Study
- Direk, Nese
- Hek, Karin
- Kuningas, Maris
- Luik, Annemarie
- Walter, Stefan