A Developmental Epidemiological Framework for Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology Research

  • Nicholas S. Ialongo
  • Sheppard G. Kellam
  • Jeanne Poduska
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)


In this chapter we elaborate on the principles and theoretical perspectives that have formed the foundation for the Johns Hopkins University Prevention Intervention Research Center’s (JHU-PIRC) work over the last decade. During this time, we fielded two sets of classroom-based, universal preventive intervention trials in 28 Baltimore City schools with three cohorts of first graders. We also fielded a universal, or primary, preventive intervention trial, along with a nested mental health services intervention, in three Baltimore Head Start centers. In each trial, the focus was on the early risk behaviors of poor academic readiness and aggressive and shy behavior and their distal correlates of antisocial behavior, substance abuse, and anxious and depressive symptoms and disorders. We believe the principles and perspectives that have guided our preventive and services interventions work are equally applicable to researchers in the child clinical and pediatric psychology arenas. As will become apparent, we advocate an interdisciplinary approach to mental health research, which requires an integration of the life course developmental, public health, community epidemiological, and experimental trials perspectives. We provide the reader with examples from our own research as well as that of others that we hope will highlight the strengths of our developmental epidemiological framework and its applicability to the challenges faced by child clinical and pediatric psychology researchers. Among the topics addressed are: (1) the need for grounding our clinical and basic research in developmental theory (Coie et al., 1993; Kellam & Rebok, 1992; Reid, 1993; Sandler et al., 1992); (2) the use of intervention trials as tests of our etiologic models of development and psychopathology (Coie et al., 1993; Kellam & Rebok, 1992; Reid, 1993; Sandler et al, 1992); (3) the benefits of a public health perspective with respect to the dissemination and acceptance of interventions found to be efficacious in research settings (Kellam & Rebok, 1992); (4) the pitfalls associated with the use of clinic samples and samples of convenience in clinical research and research on development and psychopathology (Greenley & Mechanic, 1976; Greenley, Mechanic, & Clearly, 1987); and (5) economically and logistically feasible methods for defining and selecting research populations in accord with epidemiological principles (Gordis, 1996).


Mental Health Service Antisocial Behavior Head Start Public Health Perspective Baltimore City 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas S. Ialongo
    • 1
  • Sheppard G. Kellam
    • 1
  • Jeanne Poduska
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mental HygieneJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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