Recall of childhood psychopathology more than 10 years later

Carrie L. Masia, Eric A. Storch, Heather C. Dent, Philip Adams, Helena Verdeli, Mark Davies, Myrna M. Weissman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: This study investigated recall in a sample of depressed, anxious, and normal children followed up as adults. Strengths of this study were that the length of the retest interval was substantial, follow-up information was collected by blind interviewers, and childhood diagnoses were clearly documented. Method: The sample consisted of 144 subjects with a childhood diagnosis of depression, 48 with a childhood diagnosis of anxiety, and 128 normal controls. Best-estimate diagnoses assigned at follow-up were compared with childhood primary diagnoses. Results: Reliability and sensitivity were fair for major depressive disorder (mean = 0.46 and 50%, respectively) and any depression (mean = 0.57 and 65%, respectively). Reliability and sensitivity were relatively lower for anxiety (mean = 0.32 and 43%, respectively). Sensitivity for any diagnosis was good (mean = 71%). Specificity was good among all diagnostic categories (range = 73%-100%). Results suggest better diagnostic recall for females than for males. Recall was slightly better for subjects who were older than age 12 during their original episode. Age-of-onset reliability was poor (major depressive disorder = 0.22, any depression = 0.22, and any anxiety = -0.13). Conclusions: Recall of any childhood disorder is moderately reliable and accurate. Recall of a specific disorder is less accurate. Depression was more likely to be recalled than anxiety. High specificity suggests that participants were not biased to report disorders not present in childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-12
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Best-estimate diagnoses
  • Recall
  • Reliability
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity


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