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Taxometric evidence of a dimensional latent structure for depression in an epidemiological sample of children and adolescents

  • R. T. Liu (a1)



A basic phenomenological question of much theoretical and empirical interest is whether the latent structure of depression is dimensional or categorical in nature. Prior taxometric studies of youth depression have yielded mixed findings. In a step towards resolving these contradictory findings, the current taxometric investigation is the first to utilize a recently developed objective index, the comparison curve fit index, to evaluate the latent structure of major depression in an epidemiological sample of children and adolescents.


Data were derived from Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain surveys. Participants were administered a structured diagnostic interview to assess for current depression. Parents (n = 683) were interviewed for children aged 5–16 years, and child interviews (n = 605) were conducted for those aged 11–16 years.


MAMBAC (mean above minus below a cut), MAXEIG (maximum eigenvalue) and L-Mode (latent mode) analyses provided convergent support for a dimensional latent structure.


The current findings suggest that depression in youth is more accurately conceptualized as a continuous syndrome rather than a discrete diagnostic entity.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: R. T. Liu, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Bradley Hospital, 1011 Veterans Memorial Parkway, East Providence, RI 02915, USA. (Email:


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