Background: Although several authors have suggested that a single externalizing spectrum encompassing both antisocial behavioral syndromes and substance use disorder is to be preferred, this assumption has not been evaluated systematically throughout studies.
Purpose: The objective was to establish the generalizability of transdiagnostic models of externalizing disorders across different types of disorders and populations, in regard to the strength of the evidence.
Method: We conducted a systematic literature review using combinations of two sets of keywords: 1) "antisocial", "externalizing", "conduct disorder", "disruptive behavior disorder", "substance abuse", "substance-related disorder", "cannabis", "cocaine", "hallucinogen", "alcoholism", "opioid"; 2) "latent structure", "factor analysis", "multivariate analysis".
Results: Models supporting a superordinate factor appeared dominant in a limited set of different populations, on which the majority of the research sample was focused.
Conclusions: Although the externalizing spectrum model is a promising angle for future research and treatment, extending research on this model in a higher diversity of populations is recommended to enhance the understanding and applicability of the externalizing spectrum model.
Keywords: Antisocial; Factor structure; Substance abuse; Systematic review.
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