Analyzing dynamic change in children’s socioemotional development using the strengths and difficulties questionnaire in a large United Kingdom longitudinal study

Lydia Gabriela Speyer, Anastasia Ushakova, Hildigunnur Anna Hall, Michelle Luciano, Bonnie Auyeung, Aja Louise Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many children who suffer from one mental health issue also suffer from at least one co-occurring disorder and a range of developmental psychopathology theories, including developmental cascade and network models, have been proposed to explain this widespread co-occurrence. Autoregressive latent trajectory models with structured residuals (ALT-SR) and multilevel graphical vector autoregression (GVAR) are recently proposed complementary approaches that can help operationalize and test these theories and provide new insights into the reciprocal relations between multiple mental health domains to advance the understanding of the development of co-occurring mental health problems. This study uses ALT-SR and multilevel GVAR models to analyze the temporal, contemporaneous, and between-person relations between key dimensions of child mental health: emotional problems, peer problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, and prosociality as measured by the parent-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in 17,478 children from the U.K. Millennium Cohort study at ages 3, 5, 7, 11, 14, and 17 years. Children's strengths and difficulties in different domains of psychosocial functioning were dynamically associated with each other over- and within-time. The ALT-SR highlighted that hyperactivity/inattention plays a central role in affecting other domains over developmental time, while the GVAR model highlighted comparably strong bidirectional relations between conduct problems and prosociality as well as between emotional problems and peer problems. This study confirms that mental health difficulties influence one another dynamically over time. The complementary techniques of ALT-SR and GVAR models offer different insights into co-occurring mental health problems and hold promise for supporting the building of more comprehensive developmental psychopathological theories that acknowledge the interconnectedness of different domains of mental health. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Early online date22 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • developmental psychopathology
  • socioemotional strengths and difficulties
  • ALT-SR
  • graphical vector autoregression
  • Millennium Cohort Study


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