Parent psychopathology and offspring mental disorders: Results from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys

Katie A. McLaughlin, Anne M. Gadermann, Irving Hwang, Nancy A. Sampson, Ali Al-Hamzawi, Laura Helena Andrade, Matthias C. Angermeyer, Corina Benjet, Evelyn J. Bromet, Ronny Bruffaerts, José Miguel Caldas-de-Almeida, Giovanni De Girolamo, Ron De Graaf, Silvia Florescu, Oye Gureje, Josep Maria Haro, Hristo Ruskov Hinkov, Itsuko Horiguchi, Chiyi Hu, Aimee Nasser KaramViviane Kovess-Masfety, Sing Lee, Samuel D. Murphy, S. Haque Nizamie, José Posada-Villa, David R. Williams, Ronald C. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Associations between specific parent and offspring mental disorders are likely to have been overestimated in studies that have failed to control for parent comorbidity. Aims: To examine the associations of parent with respondent disorders. Method: Data come from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys (n = 51 507). Respondent disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and parent disorders with informant-based Family History Research Diagnostic Criteria interviews. Results: Although virtually all parent disorders examined (major depressive, generalised anxiety, panic, substance and antisocial behaviour disorders and suicidality) were significantly associated with offspring disorders in multivariate analyses, little specificity was found. Comorbid parent disorders had significant sub-additive associations with offspring disorders. Population-attributable risk proportions for parent disorders were 12.4% across all offspring disorders, generally higher in high- and upper-middle-than low-/lower-middle-income countries, and consistently higher for behaviour (11.0-19.9%) than other (7.1-14.0%) disorders. Conclusions: Parent psychopathology is a robust non-specific predictor associated with a substantial proportion of offspring disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-299
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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