A detailed hierarchical model of psychopathology: from individual symptoms up to the general factor of psychopathology

Miriam K. Forbes*, Matthew Sunderland, Ronald M. Rapee, Philip J. Batterham, Alison L. Calear, Natacha Carragher, Camilo Ruggero, Mark Zimmerman, Andrew J. Baillie, Samantha J. Lynch, Louise Mewton, Tim Slade, Robert F. Krueger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Much of the knowledge about the relationships among domains of psychopathology is built on the diagnostic categories described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and relatively little research has examined the symptom-level structure of psychopathology. The aim of this study was to delineate a detailed hierarchical model of psychopathology—from individual symptoms up to a general factor of psychopathology—allowing both higher- and lower-order dimensions to depart from the structure of the DSM. We explored the hierarchical structure of hundreds of symptoms spanning 18 DSM disorders in two large samples—one from the general population in Australia (n = 3,175) and the other a treatment-seeking clinical sample from the United States (n = 1,775). There was marked convergence between the two samples, offering new perspectives on higher-order dimensions of psychopathology. We also found several noteworthy departures from the structure of the DSM in the symptom-level data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-168
Number of pages30
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume9
Issue number2
Early online date19 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • structure of psychopathology
  • symptom-level analyses
  • HiTOP
  • empirical classification

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