Problems in setting up an executing large-scale psychiatric epidemiological studies.
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This paper focuses on problems that can be encountered in conceptualizing, executing and writing up large-scale psychiatric epidemiological studies. It makes no attempt to cover fundamental issues of design and analysis, rather it centers on problems associated with projects of considerable size. In the conceptual area, it discusses the prerequisites to be considered before deciding to launch such a study. It notes the administrative and scientific uses of epidemiological studies and considers the strengths and weaknesses of large-scale studies to address those concerns. Issues in carrying out such studies are discussed including decisions about study design, sampling method and instrumentation. All are dependent on the central purpose of the study but trade-offs between feasibility and scientific rigor are always present. Data collection and analysis problems highlighted in large-scale studies are examined. They include the difficulty, in the former, of adequately motivating and supervising field personnel and, in the latter, of dealing with problems that accompany missing data and complicated sampling strategies. Potential problems in data access and use and writing up the results are seen as arising from the presence of a large investigative team with diverse interests. Lastly, the comparative worth of these studies is considered.
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