A systematic review of transdiagnostic risk and protective factors for general and specific psychopathology in young people

Clin Psychol Rev. 2021 Jul:87:102036. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2021.102036. Epub 2021 May 8.


A large body of research has emerged over the last decade examining empirical models of general and specific psychopathology, which take into account comorbidity among psychiatric disorders and enable investigation of risk and protective factors that are common across disorders. This systematic review presents findings from studies of empirical models of psychopathology and transdiagnostic risk and protective factors for psychopathology among young people (10-24 years). PsycInfo, Medline and EMBASE were searched from inception to November 2020, and 41 studies were identified that examined at least one risk or protective factor in relation to broad, empirically derived, psychopathology outcomes. Results revealed several biological (executive functioning deficits, earlier pubertal timing, genetic risk for ADHD and schizophrenia, reduced gray matter volume), socio-environmental (stressful life events, maternal depression) and psychological (low effortful control, high neuroticism, negative affectivity) transdiagnostic risk factors for broad psychopathology outcomes, including general psychopathology, internalising and externalising. Methodological complexities are discussed and recommendations for future studies of empirical models of psychopathology are presented. These results contribute to a growing body of support for transdiagnostic approaches to prevention and intervention for psychiatric disorders and highlight several promising avenues for future research.

Keywords: Adolescent; Protective factors; Psychopathology; Risk factors; Transdiagnostic; Young people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Protective Factors
  • Psychopathology*
  • Risk Factors