Parental free descriptions and its association with juvenile psychopathology

T.A. Koopmans, L. Nijland, B. Siebelink, M. Slotboom

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Screening for psychopathology through administering generic questionnaires is common practice. Informants are possibly limited by the standardized formats of these instruments. The purpose of this study is to examine the clinical relevance of freely chosen descriptors of the child by translating these in terms of the Five Factor Model for personality. For over 15 years parents of clinically admitted children were asked to describe their child in their own words. In total 3436 youngsters (2150 males and 1286 females aged on average 10.2 years and 12.1 years respectively) were described on average by 8 descriptors. The thus acquired 27,774 parental free descriptors were then coded in terms of the Five Factor Model. The descriptors were reliably translated in proportional profiles on the Five Factor Model. Type of pathology was predicted by distributions of parental descriptors amongst the Five Factor Model for over half of the admitted youngsters. This study is the first to investigate the usefulness of free parental descriptors in relation to screening for psychopathology. Parental free descriptors appear to represent clinically relevant aspects of the child while at the same time offering a satisfying experience for parents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-56
JournalAmerican Journal of Applied Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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