The Structure of Psychopathology in Early Adolescence: Study of a Canadian Sample [2017]

The current study investigates the correlational structure of psychopathology in a large sample of Canadian adolescents and highlights the association between the psychopathological dimensions and gender.

Data came from 3826 Canadian adolescents aged 12.8 ± 0.4 y. Five alternative dimensional models were tested using confirmatory factor analysis, and the association between gender, language, and the mean level of psychopathological dimensions was examined using a multiple-indicators multiple-causes model.

A bifactor model with 1 general psychopathology factor and 3 specific dimensions (internalizing, externalizing, thought disorder) provided the best fit to the data. Results indicated metric invariance of the bifactor structure with respect to language. Females reported higher mean levels of internalizing, and males reported higher mean levels of externalizing. No significant sex differences emerged in liability to thought disorder or general psychopathology. The presence of a general psychopathology factor increased the association between gender and specific dimensions.

The current study is the first to highlight the bifactor structure including a specific thought disorder factor in a Canadian sample of adolescents. The findings further highlight the importance of transdiagnostic approaches to prevention and intervention among young adolescents.

Mohammad H. Afzali, PhD, Matthew Sunderland, PhD, Natacha Carragher, PhD, Patricia Conrod, PhD
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 63, Issue 4, 2018