The Child Behavior Checklist Dysregulation Profile in Preschool Children: A Broad Dysregulation Syndrome

Sanne Barbara Geeraerts, Marike Hester Francisca Deutz, Maja Deković, Tessa Bunte, Kim Schoemaker, Kimberly Andrews Espy, Peter Prinzie, Anneloes Van Baar, Walter Matthys

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Abstract

Objective Children with concurrent impairments in regulating affect, behavior, and cognition can be identified with the Anxious/Depressed, Aggressive Behavior, and Attention Problems scales (or AAA scales) of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Jointly, these scales form the Dysregulation Profile (DP). Despite persuasive evidence that DP is a marker for severe developmental problems, no consensus exists on the preferred conceptualization and operationalization of DP in preschool years. We addressed this concern by testing and validating the factor structure of DP in a group of predominantly clinically referred preschool children. Method Participants were 247 children (195 boys and 52 girls), aged 3.5 to 5.5 years. Children were assessed at baseline and 18 months later, using parent and teacher reports, a clinical interview with parents, behavioral observations, and neuropsychological tasks. Results Confirmatory factor analysis showed that a bifactor model, with a general DP factor and 3 specific factors representing the AAA scales, fitted the data better than a second-order model and a one-factor model for both parent-reported and teacher-reported child problem behavior. Criterion validity analyses showed that the DP factor was concurrently and longitudinally associated with markers of dysregulation and clinically relevant criteria, whereas the specific factors representing the AAA scales were more differentially related to those criteria. Conclusion DP is best conceptualized as a broad syndrome of dysregulation that exists in addition to the specific syndromes as represented by the AAA scales. Implications for researchers and clinicians are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1212
Pages (from-to)595-602
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume54
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2015

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