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Item Response Theory Properties of the Internalizing Disorders in Adolescents

Context: Although there is evidence for a single internalizing dimension for the major anxiety and depressive disorders, there are little data on psychometric properties of this dimension in adolescents. Objective: The study examined this using item response theory.

Method: The 2-parameter logistic model was used to examine the properties for the common internalizing disorders (depressive and anxiety) in a group of 625 clinic-referred adolescents.

Results: All disorders were strong discriminators of the internalizing dimension, and generally more representative of and measured the internalizing dimension with more precision in the upper half of the trait continuum. There was also support for the concurrent validity of the internalizing dimension, in that it had large to medium effect size correlations with the internalizing scores of other measures.

Conclusion: The findings explain the high comorbidity of anxiety and depressive disorders, and support the organization of these disorders in a single overarching category.


Rapson Gomez and Alasdair Vance

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