The network structure of psychopathology in a community sample of preadolescents
Psychopathology is often classified according to diagnostic categories or scale scores. These ignore potentially important information about associations between specific symptoms and, consequently, lead to heterogeneous constructs that may mask relevant individual differences. Network analyses focus on these specific symptom associations, providing the opportunity to explore the complex structure of psychopathology in more detail. We examined the empirical network structure of 95 emotional and behavioral problems of the Youth Self-Report (YSR) to explore how well this structure reflected the predefined YSR domains. The study was conducted in a large community sample (N = 2,175) of preadolescents (mean age = 11.1, SD = 0.6 years), and the network structure was determined by means of the recently developed network analysis technique, eLasso. Although problems within the same domain, in general, showed more and stronger connections than problems belonging to different domains, some problems showed substantially more or stronger associations than others; consequently, problems cannot be considered interchangeable indicators of their domain. Furthermore, no sharp boundaries were found between the domains as specific symptom pairs of different domains showed strong connections. Taken together, our findings indicate that network models provide a promising addition to the more traditional way of distinguishing diagnoses or scale scores. (PsycINFO Database Record.
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