Twin Studies of Heritability

Ezra Susser, Sharon Schwartz, Alfredo Morabia and Evelyn J. Bromet

in Psychiatric Epidemiology

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780195101812
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199864096 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychiatry Series

Twin Studies of Heritability

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
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This chapter focuses on the methodological issues arising from the discrepancy between the results of heritability studies and epidemiologic designs. It focuses on the basic principles of the heritability design. The discussion is limited to heritability studies of twins, which is used as a prototype. The discussion is also limited to a categorical disease outcome. The chapter begins by describing the twin study, a type of natural experiment, and explains how it can estimate the contributions of genetic and environmental causes of a disorder. It then compares the twin studies to risk factor designs. It proposes a reason that these approaches can yield different results for the effect of shared family environment.

Keywords: twins; heritability studies; epidemiologic study; risk factor studies

Chapter.  6472 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Medical Statistics and Methodology

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