Latent classes of emotional and behavioural problems in epidemiological and referred samples and their relations to DSM-IV diagnoses
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Researchers’ interest have recently moved toward the identification of recurrent psychopathological profiles characterized by concurrent elevations on different behavioural and emotional traits. This new strategy turned to be useful in terms of diagnosis and outcome prediction. We used a person-centred statistical approach to examine whether different groups could be identified in a referred sample and in a general-population sample of children and adolescents, and we investigated their relation to DSM-IV diagnoses. A latent class analysis (LCA) was performed on the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) syndrome scales of the referred sample (N = 1225), of the general-population sample (N = 3418), and of the total sample. Models estimating 1-class through 5-class solutions were compared and agreement in the classification of subjects was evaluated. Chi square analyses, a logistic regression, and a multinomial logistic regression analysis were used to investigate the relations between classes and diagnoses. In the two samples and in the total sample, the best-fitting models were 4-class solutions. The identified classes were Internalizing Problems (15.68%), Severe Dysregulated (7.82%), Attention/Hyperactivity (10.19%), and Low Problems (66.32%). Subsequent analyses indicated a significant relationship between diagnoses and classes as well as a main association between the severe dysregulated class and comorbidity. Our data suggested the presence of four different psychopathological profiles related to different outcomes in terms of psychopathological diagnoses. In particular, our results underline the presence of a profile characterized by severe emotional and behavioural dysregulation that is mostly associated with the presence of multiple diagnosis. © 2016, The Author(s).