Annual research review: Categories versus dimensions in the classification and conceptualisation of child and adolescent mental disorders - Implications of recent empirical study

D. Coghill, E.J.S. Sonuga-Barke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    149 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The question of whether child and adolescent mental disorders are best classified using dimensional or categorical approaches is a contentious one that has equally profound implications for clinical practice and scientific enquiry. Here, we explore this issue in the context of the forth coming publication of the DSM-5 and ICD-11 approaches to classification and diagnosis and in the light of recent empirical studies. First, we provide an overview of current category-based systems and dimensional alternatives. Second, we distinguish the various strands of meaning and levels of analysis implied when we talk about categories and dimensions of mental disorder - distinguishing practical clinical necessity, formal diagnostic systems, meta-theoretical beliefs and empirical reality. Third, we introduce the different statistical techniques developed to identify disorder dimensions and categories in childhood populations and to test between categorical and dimensional models. Fourth, we summarise the empirical evidence from recent taxometric studies in favour of the 'taxonomic hypothesis' that mental disorder categories reflect discrete entities with putative specific causes. Finally, we explore the implications of these findings for clinical practice and science.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)469-489
    Number of pages21
    JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
    Volume53
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Annual research review: Categories versus dimensions in the classification and conceptualisation of child and adolescent mental disorders - Implications of recent empirical study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this