The internet-based MGS2 control sample: Self report of mental illness

Alan R. Sanders, Douglas F. Levinson, Jubao Duan, J. Michael Dennis, Rick Li, Kenneth S. Kendler, John P. Rice, Jianxin Shi, Bryan J. Mowry, Farooq Amin, Jeremy M. Silverman, Nancy G. Buccola, William F. Byerley, Donald W. Black, Robert Freedman, C. Robert Cloninger, Pablo V. Gejman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objective: The Molecular Genetics of. Schizophrenia (MGS2) project recruited an adult control sample of non-Hispanic European-ancestry (N=3,364) and African American (N=1,301) subjects. Method: Subjects gave consent to deposit phenotypic data and blood samples into a repository for general research use, with full anonymization of the sample. The authors compared the control sample with population census data for demographic data and with previous population surveys for anthropometrics and prevalences of psychiatric disorders as estimated by an Internet-administered questionnaire. Results: The full MGS2 control sample includes 4,665 subjects (European-ancestry: N=3,364; African American: N=1,301), of whom 3,626 were included in the MGS2 genome-wide association study (GWAS). The sample is generally demographically representative of the U.S. population, except for being older and more female, educated, and affluent, although all strata are represented. Self-reported ancestry was consistent with genotypic and census data. Lifetime prevalences for depressive, anxiety, and substance use diagnoses were higher than in previous population-based surveys, probably due to use of an abbreviated self-report instrument. However, patterns such as sex ratios, comorbidity, and demographic associations were consistent with previous reports. DNA quality for the Internet collected/evaluated control sample was comparable to that of the face-to-face case sample. Conclusions: The Internet-based methods facilitated the rapid collection of large and anonymized non-Hispanic European-ancestry and African American control samples that have been validated as being generally representative for many aspects of demography, ancestry, and morbidity. Utilization of clinical screening data shared with the scientific community may permit investigators to select appropriate controls for some studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-865
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


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