Background: Current categorical mental illness diagnoses have limitations and there is a need for empirical investigations of continuous dimensions of psychopathology. Studies to date often focus on a subset of measures and neglect key symptoms relevant to severe illnesses. This study aimed to comprehensively examine widely-representative psychopathology structure in children by including detailed measures of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs), autism spectrum disorder symptoms (ASD), impulsivity, and sensitivity to reward and punishment.
Methods: We included ten child-report and parent-report instruments capturing diverse psychopathology in 11,185 children aged 9-10 from the ABCD Study. Using Mplus v7.11, two novel modeling approaches were employed separately for informants. Model fit was evaluated based on CFI, TLI, RMSEA, and conceptual clarity. Dimension score differences in sex, age, cognition, imaging measures, and medical service usage were assessed.
Results: All four models showed excellent fit, similar factor structure within informant, and factor score differences in external risk measures. PLEs loaded most highly onto a general p factor. In addition to internalizing and externalizing factors, measures of ASD symptoms, impulsivity, and sensitivity to reward loaded onto separate factors.
Conclusions: Findings highlight both novel distinctions and shared variance between diverse psychopathology symptoms and identify indicators of specific versus general risk in children.