Objective: To design an internationally valid and practical instrument on which data can be recorded for small areas that describes the sociodemographic characteristics known to be associated with psychiatric morbidity and service use. Method: (1) Identification of a set of sociodemographic characteristics which, on the basis of currently available evidence, would be expected to influence needs for and provision of mental health care in different countries. (2) Selection of a subset of these for inclusion in the schedule based on likely degree of cross-cultural validity and on the types and formats of the data routinely available in each country. (3) Revision of the schedule following a pilot by EPCAT members. Results: The European Socio-Demographic Schedule (ESDS) was successfully employed to collect sociodemographic data in seven catchment areas. Differences were found between the areas in terms of availability of data as well as in the resulting profiles. Conclusion: The ESDS has been shown to be applicable in a number of European countries
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