Cognitive and Interpersonal Vulnerabilities to Adolescent Depression: Classification of Risk Profiles for a Personalized Prevention Approach

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Despite interest in psychosocial vulnerabilities to depression, little is known about reliable and valid individualized risk profiles that can be used to match individuals to evidence-based interventions for depression. This study investigated well-established cognitive and interpersonal vulnerabilities to depression among youth to discern an evidence-based risk classification approach which is being used in a personalized depression prevention randomized clinical trial. Data were drawn from a general community sample of adolescents (N = 467; ages 10-16, mean 13.14, SD = 1.62; 57% females) who were followed prospectively for 3 years. Youth completed measures of cognitive (negative cognitive style, dysfunctional attitudes, rumination) and interpersonal (support and conflict with peers and parents, excessive reassurance seeking, social competence, co-rumination) risks to depression, and then were followed longitudinally for onset of depression. Principal axis factor analyses showed that three latent factors--cognitive vulnerability, interpersonal support, and interpersonal conflict--optimally represented the structure of these risk factors. Clinically practical and meaningful cutoffs, based on tertile cut-off scores on cognitive and interpersonal risk measures, were used to categorize youth into relatively balanced high and low cognitive and interpersonal risk groups. These risk classification groups exhibited validity (AUC > 0.70) by predicting prospective onsets of depressive episodes at 18-months follow-ups. These findings demonstrate a reliable and valid approach to synthesize psychosocial vulnerabilities to depression, specifically cognitive and interpersonal risks. Results are discussed in terms of using these risk classifications profiles to test personalized prevention of depression during adolescence.


Hankin BL, Young JF, Gallop R, Garber J