103rd Annual Meeting of the
American Psychopathological Association
Long-term Outcomes in Psychopathology Research: Rethinking the Scientific Agenda
Understanding and improving the life course of individuals with psychiatric and substance use disorders are core issues that drive psychopathology research. Over the past 100 years, long-term, prospective outcome studies have provided important insights about prognosis, risk and protective factors for many disorders. Yet, the trajectories of psychosocial functioning and clinical fluctuations cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. Indeed, we are still challenged by basic issues of diagnosis and the measurement of outcomes.
This meeting is devoted to a discussion of “where we have been and where we are going” with prospective outcomes studies – especially with respect to the compelling hypotheses to be tested in the next generation of research. The meeting opens with the documentary film, Kings Park, a powerful depiction of the lives of people who spent their early adult years in a state mental institution. We then review findings from long-term studies of adult and childhood onset disorders with an eye to identifying the pivotal issues to be addressed in future research. Next, we focus on diagnosis and boundary issues that challenge the fundamental essence of outcomes research. Questions are then raised about the meaning of recovery as conceptualized by senior investigators at the forefront of their fields and critiqued by our peers through the lens of their personal experiences.
The meeting closes with a peek into the future. We are at the cusp of a new era in outcomes research both in terms of 21st century psychiatric disorders and in technological innovations, such as genomics and brain imaging, that will transform the ways we understand and manage psychiatric disorders. Like Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the conference concludes as it began by highlighting the importance of personal narrative for furthering our scientific agenda and, most significantly, for communicating science.
Evelyn Bromet, PhD, President 2013