Latent class analysis of child behavior checklist attention problems

James J. Hudziak, Martha E. Wadsworth, Andrew C. Heath, Thomas M. Achenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective: To test whether attention problems in children are continuously distributed or categorically discrete, the authors performed latent class analyses (LCA) of items from the Attention Problems Scale of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) using data from the clinical and nonclinical samples used in the derivation of the CBCL syndromes. Method: A CBCL was completed by a parent or guardian of each of 2,100 nonreferred children selected to be representative of U.S. nonreferred children and a demographically matched sample of 2,100 clinically referred children. Attention problems symptoms were subjected to LCA. Results: LCAs were consistent with the presence of 3 levels of symptom presentation in both samples. Children in the nonclinical sample were classified as having no symptoms, mild symptoms, or moderate symptoms. Children in the clinical group had mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. Conclusions: These results suggest that child and adolescent psychiatric symptoms such as attention problems can be thought of as continuously distributed phenomena rather than discrete disease entitles, lending support for an empirical approach to both clinical work and research. In addition, high prevalence rates of attention problems in both clinical and nonclinical samples suggest the need for careful screening of attention problems in clinic and academic settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-991
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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