The Northwestern Juvenile Project

Today's New York Times carries a description of the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a longitudinal study of the mental health and outcomes for delinquent youth. The study follows 1800 (now down to 1644) youth with the goal of understanding drug and alcohol abuse, mental disorders, violence, HIV incidence, and paths or barriers to service. The study is directed by Linda A. Teplin of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The design of this study, with its longitudinal approach and emphasis on follow up, is unusual and, from the description in the paper, sounds very well thought through. Because they are expensive, long-term follow up studies are rarely done. The potential for useful information for policy makers and service providers is immense. I haven't yet had time to look at the papers, but the abstracts -- including this one, which concludes that most of the youth in detention had a history of physical abuse -- suggest that there is much to be learned.

You can read more about the study, and find links to the papers that have already come out of it, here.

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