Psychological Adaptiveness to Critical Events (PACE)
Why do we sometimes overcome stressful events with ease, while we in other periods experience difficulties in response to such adversities? Why do individuals react differently to the same event?
The Psychological Adaptiveness to Critical Events (PACE) study is a nationally representative, longitudinal investigation of mental health in the general adult population in Norway.
By monitoring more than 16,000 participants over a 15-year time period, encompassing impactful events in their daily lives in addition to incidents of national and international significance, the PACE study aims to elucidate the complex interplay between these critical events and individual susceptibilities in increasing the risk of developing common mental health disorders.
A longitudinal investigation across different time scales
The PACE study investigates fluctuations in mental health as they manifest across different temporal scales, ranging from hourly and daily occurrences to longitudinal shifts spanning months and years.
The first temporal component of the study encompasses the monitoring of over 16,000 participants through longitudinal panel measurements, providing assessments across a range of monthly and annual time scales.
The second temporal component of the study includes the examination of a sub-sample of over 3,500 individuals using an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) design. This approach entails collecting four daily measurements per participant for a continuous 30-day period, culminating in 120 assessments per individual to yield a total of 420,000 observations of mental health symptoms and accompanying psychological processes across the sub-sample.
Random probability sample obtained from population registries
The PACE study embodies a random probability sample of the adult population through the retrieval of population lists from Norwegian registries. This enables the inclusion and representation of diverse subgroups of adults to facilitate a comprehensive examination of the population under investigation.
Multimodal data sources and a dynamical systems approach
The PACE study combines four sources of information to augment our understanding of how common mental health disorders arise and are maintained in the adult population.
1. Access to electronic health record or registry data provides the study with objective and clinician-rated data, such as hospital visitations and medical history.
2. Longitudinal assessments on longer time scales through its 15-year period provide information about changes in mental health on the population and individual level across personal and (inter)national critical events that arise over time.
3. Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) data equips the study with the ability to divert a granular focus toward how psychopathology forms on an individual and population level.
4. Natural language data are collected to enable an unrestricted and open assessment of changes in mental health over time.
A systems-based approach
Leveraging these different data sources, the PACE study employs a dynamical systems approach to understand how contextual risk factors and biopsychosocial processes interact to form common mental health disorders.
Toward a more precise understanding of mental disorder formation and resilience
The rich demographic information available in the study enables an investigation of individual differences in how distinct patterns of interplay between contextual variables and biopsychosocial processes can promote resilience against, or contribute to the manifestation of mental health disorders.
The study has been ethically approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics (reference: 522020).