Structure and Measurement of Depression in Youths: Applying Item Response Theory to Clinical Data

Journal Article

Our goals in this article were to use item response theory (IRT) to assess the relation of depressive symptoms to the underlying dimension of depression and to demonstrate how IRT-based measurement strategies can yield more reliable data about depression severity than conventional symptom counts. Participants were 3,403 children and adolescents from 12 contributing clinical and nonclinical samples; all participants had received the Kiddie Schedule of Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Aged Children. Results revealed that some symptoms reflected higher levels of depression and were more discriminating than others. Furthermore, use of IRT-based information about symptom severity and discriminability in the measurement of depression severity was shown to reduce measurement error and increase measurement fidelity. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cole, DA; Cai, L; Martin, NC; Findling, RL; Youngstrom, EA; Garber, J; Curry, JF; Hyde, JS; Essex, MJ; Compas, BE; Goodyer, IM; Rohde, P; Stark, KD; Slattery, MJ; Forehand, R

Published Date

  • 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 819 - 833

PubMed ID

  • 21534696

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1040-3590

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0023518