Evidence of a traumatic stress dimension of psychopathology among at-risk children living in Denmark

Ida Haahr-Pedersen, Frédérique Vallières, Maj Hansen, Kinan Aldamman, Vanessa Schmidt-Rasmussen, Rikke Holm Bramsen, Pernille Spitz, Philip Hyland*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) is a quantitative model of psychopathology. HiTOP proposes that trauma-related distress is a facet of Internalizing psychopathology, but recent evidence with young people suggests that it may reflect a unique dimension of psychopathology. This study assessed the latent structure of child and adolescent psychopathology to determine whether there is evidence of a unique ‘Traumatic Stress’ dimension, and how dimensions of psychopathology are associated with specific types of childhood adversity and trauma, and suicidal ideation and self-injurious behavior. Participants were children and adolescents aged 1–17 years (N = 1,800) who were in contact with the Danish child protection system due to suspected child abuse. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to determine the optimal latent structure of psychopathology, and structural equation modelling was used to determine how the dimensions of psychopathology were associated with different forms of trauma and adversity and suicidality/self-harm. The best fitting model included three factors of Internalizing, Externalizing, and Traumatic Stress. The Traumatic Stress dimensions was associated with older age, living outside of the family home, parental mental illness, higher levels of parental conflict, and the presence of domestic violence in the child’s home. The Traumatic Stress dimension was not associated with suicidality/self-harm. This study provides additional evidence of a distinct dimension of Traumatic Stress among young people. Further studies are needed to determine if these findings are replicable, particularly in older participants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Psychology
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30. Mar 2023


  • Child and adolescent
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Psychopathology
  • Traumatic stress


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