Characterizing Youth-Caregiver Concordance and Discrepancies in Psychopathology Symptoms in a US Community Sample


Evidence shows that reports of psychopathology symptoms by youth and their caregiver informants differ. To quantify youth-caregiver discrepancies in psychopathology symptoms and factors associated with such discrepancies, we investigated differences in how youth and their caregivers rated psychopathology symptoms. The sample (N = 5094) was extracted from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a community-based sample of youth and included participants ages 11-17 years old with both youth and caregiver reported symptom scores. Across psychopathology symptoms, youth-caregiver concordance was poor to fair (Cohens kappa for symptom items ranged between 0.03–0.41). Psychosis symptoms had the lowest concordance—Cohen’s kappa ranged from 0.03 to 0.17 across psychosis symptoms. Discrepancies between youth and caregiver symptom reports were greater than average for Black youth and for youth of low socioeconomic status; discrepancies were also higher than average in youth with any psychiatric disorder when compared to typically developing youth. Network analysis of difference scores obtained by subtracting youth symptom scores from caregiver reported symptom scores showed that network connectivity (i.e., correlated difference scores) was sparsest for psychosis spectrum compared to other psychiatric disorders. Using a large sample, we show that youth and their caregiver informants tend to report psychopathology symptoms differently. Youth-caregiver discrepancies were the most pronounced for Black youth and youth of low socio-economic status. Race and socioeconomic status contribute to significant differences in how youth and their caregivers report such symptoms and are important factors that should be accounted for to facilitate accurate mental health symptom assessment and evaluation.

Issues in Mental Health Nursing