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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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Symptom-level analyses of the structure of psychopathology

Over the past 20 years, a substantial literature has emerged on the empirical structure of psychopathology in adults. This literature has largely focused on using latent variables to model the patterns of co-occurrence among mental disorders, and has uncovered robust transdiagnostic dimensions of psychopathology—for example internalizing, externalizing, and thought disorder. The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) consortium recently synthesised this literature, and highlighted substantial gaps in our understanding of the symptom- and syndrome-level structure. I will present analyses of two large symptom-level datasets including a clinical outpatient sample (n = 1874) and a community sample (n = 3175)—both spanning common mental disorders as well as some less common psychopathology. Analyses included three steps: (1) Identifying unitary clusters of symptoms; (2) Extracting and merging the bottom-up (agglomerative cluster analyses) and top-down (bass-ackwards analyses) hierarchical structure of these clusters in each data set; and (3) Comparing the structures of the two data sets for convergence and divergence between clinical and community samples, as well as with the HiTOP framework. Results showed substantial consistencies between samples and with the HiTOP framework, but also noteworthy differences that may help to inform future work on the structure of psychopathology.

Miriam Forbes
Macquarie University

Matthew Sunderland
University of Sydney

Philip Batterham
Australian National University

Alison Calear
Australian National University

Natacha Carragher
University of New South Wales

Mark Zimmerman
Brown University

Camilo Ruggero
University of North Texas

Ronald Rapee
Macquarie University

Robert Krueger
University of Minnesota


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