Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 1099–1109

Prevalence of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders in Santiago, Chile: a community epidemiological study

  • Benjamin Vicente
  • Flora de la Barra
  • Sandra Saldivia
  • Robert Kohn
  • Pedro Rioseco
  • Roberto Melipillan
Original Paper



To determine the prevalence of DSM-IV psychiatric disorders in a representative sample of children and adolescents living in Santiago, Chile, as part of a national sample.


Subjects aged 4–18 were selected using a stratified multistage design. First, ten municipalities/comunas of Santiago were selected; then the blocks, homes, and child or adolescent to be interviewed were chosen. Psychology graduate students administered the Spanish-language, computer-assisted version of DISC-IV that estimated DSM-IV 12-month prevalence.


A total of 792 children and adolescents were evaluated, with a participation rate of 76.7%. The most stringent impairment DSM-IV DISC algorithm for psychiatric disorders revealed a prevalence of 25.4% (20.7% for boys and 30.3% for girls). The majority of the diagnoses corresponded to anxiety and affective disorders. Prevalence was higher in children aged 4–11 (31.9%) than in adolescents aged 12–18 (18.2%). This difference was mainly accounted for by disruptive disorders in the younger age group. Anxiety disorders had the highest prevalence, although impairment was low. In contrast, most children and adolescents with affective disorders were impaired.


In Santiago, the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents was high. This study helps raise awareness of child and adolescent mental health issues in Spanish-speaking Latin America and serves as a basis for improving mental health services.


Child Adolescent Psychiatric epidemiology Psychiatric disorders Mental health 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Vicente
    • 1
  • Flora de la Barra
    • 2
  • Sandra Saldivia
    • 1
  • Robert Kohn
    • 3
  • Pedro Rioseco
    • 1
  • Roberto Melipillan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthUniversity of ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  2. 2.Medical SchoolUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorWarren Alpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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