Three subtypes of internalizing and externalizing behaviors in Chinese adolescents: Results of a latent class analysis.


Using latent class analyses (LCA), the present study aimed to test whether meaningful subtypes of internalizing and externalizing behaviors could be found among Chinese community-based adolescents. A total of 5244 adolescents, ages 11-18 years (M = 15.11, SD = 1.79) recruited from 16 Chinese middle schools completed the Chinese version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ-C). We examined the data using Latent Class Analysis to identify subtypes of internalizing and externalizing behaviors among the adolescents. Multivariate Logistic regression was subsequently implemented to ascertain the relationships between latent classes and demographic covariates. Three distinct subtypes were uncovered: a high-risk group, a middle-risk group and a low-risk group; the three subtypes accounted for 19.8, 31.1, and 49.1 % of the total sample variance respectively. Youth with elevations in one behavior type were likely to have elevations in the other behavior type. Further analyses revealed that compared to the low-risk group, the adolescents from the high-risk group and middle-risk groups were female and older. Significant heterogeneity in internalizing and externalizing behaviors was revealed in this Chinese adolescent’s sample. Profiling behavior problems patterns is potentially useful as a first step in developing tailored prevention and intervention programs. Suggestions for future research, including cross-national studies, and implications for mental health professionals were discussed.