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Answers and Questions in the Sociology of Mental Health

Carol S. Aneshensel
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 43, No. 2, Selecting Outcomes for the Sociology of Mental Health: Issues of Measurement and Dimensionality (Jun., 2002), pp. 236-246
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090199
Page Count: 11
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Answers and Questions in the Sociology of Mental Health
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Abstract

This commentary speaks to several issues that arise from the papers in this special issue. Two articles-Kessler (2002) and Mirowsky and Ross (2002)-focus on a major measurement issue: dimensional versus diagnostic-type assessments. One topic requires greater attention: the correspondence of these measures with the underlying states they supposedly measure-constructs in the psychometric tradition and empirically defined illnesses in the medical or psychiatric tradition. Conclusions about the nature of these unobserved states remain tentative at this time. Three articles-Keyes (2002), Schwartz (2002), and Umberson, Williams, and Anderson (2002)-address the expansion of mental health outcomes. The existing reliance on emotional distress is problematic for sociological research because a single disorder is not a good proxy for estimates of the overall mental health consequences of social arrangements. Although these papers present diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives, collectively they demonstrate that no one approach to outcomes is best for all research questions.

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