How Nonclinical are Community Samples?

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Mental health services are underutilized in our society by both adults and children. This finding presents a potential problem for researchers conducting community‐based research. Previous studies have demonstrated that community‐based researchers frequently do not screen participants for the presence of psychopathology nor do they ascertain whether therapeutic services are currently utilized. The present study explored the prevalence of psychopathology and treatment involvement in a sample of families recruited from the community. Results indicated that a fifth of the participants in this community‐based sample met diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder or were in treatment for psychological difficulties at the time of recruitment for this study. Furthermore, mothers, fathers, and adolescents who met the criteria according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM‐IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) for a psychological disorder had higher symptomatology than those who did not meet criteria. Methodological suggestions are provided.

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Journal of Community Psychology, v. 36, issue 4, p. 411-420