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The Latent Structure of Child and Adolescent Psychopathology and its Association with Different Forms of Trauma and Suicidality and Self-Harm

Hyland, Philip; Karatzias, Thanos; Ford, Julian D.; Fox, Robert; Spinazzola, Joseph


Philip Hyland

Julian D. Ford

Robert Fox

Joseph Spinazzola


The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) is a multidimensional and hierarchical model of the latent structure of psychopathology. While HiTOP has received much support in child/adolescent community samples, fewer studies have assessed this model in clinical samples of children/adolescents. Here, we modelled the latent structure of 45 symptoms of psychopathology from a clinical sample of children/adolescents and assessed how dimensions of psychopathology were related to specific forms of trauma and suicidality/self-harm. Clinician-derived assessments were obtained from 507 people aged 7–18 years. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to determine the optimal fitting model, and structural equation modelling was used to estimate associations with trauma exposure and suicidality/self-harm. The best fitting model(s) included five first-order factors reflecting Fear, Distress, Externalizing, Thought Disorder, and Traumatic Stress, with a higher-order general factor (p) accounting for the covariation between these factors. Unique associations were identified between specific forms of trauma and each dimension of psychopathology. p was strongly associated with suicidality/self-harm, and of the first-order factors, Distress was most strongly associated with suicidality/self-harm. Findings support the predictions of HiTOP that the latent structure of child/adolescent psychopathology can be effectively described by a multidimensional and hierarchal model. Moreover, we found tentative evidence for a unique dimension of Traumatic Stress psychopathology. Our findings also highlight the unique associations between specific forms of early life trauma and specific dimensions of psychopathology, and the importance of Distress related psychopathology for suicidality/self-harm in children and adolescents.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 4, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 27, 2022
Publication Date 2022-11
Deposit Date May 31, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 31, 2022
Journal Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
Print ISSN 2730-7166
Electronic ISSN 2730-7174
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 11
Pages 1501-1513
Keywords HiTOP, Psychopathology, Child and adolescent, Trauma, Suicidality, Self-harm
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