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Title: The bifactor model of psychopathology : methodological issues and clinical applications
Author: Constantinou, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 6791
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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For decades, clinicians have debated whether psychiatric problems should be 'lumped' into broad dimensions or 'split' into discrete entities. The bifactor model provides a potential solution to this debate by including both a general dimension of psychopathological severity known as the p factor, and specific dimensions reflecting specific problem areas such as internalizing and externalizing. This thesis evaluates the methodological properties and clinical utility of the bifactor model. Chapter 3 is a reliability review of bifactor studies and demonstrates that while self-report measures capture both general and specific domains of psychopathology, the total and subscale scores derived mainly reflect a general p factor. Chapter 4 investigates whether the general and specific psychopathology factors are products of response biases (i.e. tendencies in the way people fill out questionnaires), rather than variation in people's experiences of psychiatric problems. Less than 4% of the variance in the general and specific psychopathology factors was explained by response biases, demonstrating their substantive validity. Chapter 5 analyzes clinical outcomes assessed over a psychosocial intervention for antisocial youth with a bifactor model and demonstrates more nuanced changes in disorder-specific factors after accounting for changes in the p factor (e.g., antisociality declines but anxiety increases over time). Similarly, Chapter 6 demonstrates the prognostic value of specific personality disorders for predicting depression outcomes assessed over an inpatient intervention only after accounting for the prognostic effect of a general personality disorder factor (e.g., borderline personality disorder predicts slower recovery). These findings demonstrate the substantive nature of the general and specific psychopathology factors, but also the difficulties in reliably measuring specific domains beyond general psychopathology. They also support the bifactor model's utility in untangling clinically relevant effects that are otherwise masked by the shared variance among psychiatric problems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available