Fractionation of impulsive and compulsive trans-diagnostic phenotypes and their longitudinal associations

Samuel R. Chamberlain, Jeggan Tiego, Leonardo F Fontenelle, Roxanne Hook, Linden Parkes, Rebecca Segrave, Tobias U. Hauser, Ray J. Dolan, Ian M. Goodyer, Ed Bullmore, Jon E. Grant, Murat Yücel

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Young adulthood is a crucial neurodevelopmental period during which impulsive and compulsive problem behaviours commonly emerge. While traditionally considered diametrically opposed, impulsive and compulsive symptoms tend to co-occur. The objectives of this study were as follows: (a) to identify the optimal trans-diagnostic structural framework for measuring impulsive and compulsive problem behaviours, and (b) to use this optimal framework to identify common/distinct antecedents of these latent phenotypes. Method: In total, 654 young adults were recruited as part of the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network, a population-based cohort in the United Kingdom. The optimal trans-diagnostic structural model capturing 33 types of impulsive and compulsive problem behaviours was identified. Baseline predictors of subsequent impulsive and compulsive trans-diagnostic phenotypes were characterised, along with cross-sectional associations, using partial least squares. Results: Current problem behaviours were optimally explained by a bi-factor model, which yielded dissociable measures of impulsivity and compulsivity, as well as a general disinhibition factor. Impulsive problem behaviours were significantly explained by prior antisocial and impulsive personality traits, male gender, general distress, perceived dysfunctional parenting and teasing/arguments within friendships. Compulsive problem behaviours were significantly explained by prior compulsive traits and female gender. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that trans-diagnostic phenotypes of 33 impulsive and compulsive problem behaviours are identifiable in young adults, utilising a bi-factor model based on responses to a single questionnaire. Furthermore, these phenotypes have different antecedents. The findings yield a new framework for fractionating impulsivity and compulsivity, and suggest different early intervention targets to avert emergence of problem behaviours. This framework may be useful for future biological and clinical dissection of impulsivity and compulsivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-907
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • compulsive
  • Impulsive
  • phenotyping

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