The Study of Psychopathology from the Network Analysis Perspective: A Systematic Review

Alba Contreras, Ines Nieto, Carmen Valiente, Regina Espinosa, Carmelo Vazquez
2019 Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics  
Network analysis (NA) is an analytical tool that allows one to explore the map of connections and eventual dynamic influences among symptoms and other elements of mental disorders. In recent years, the use of NA in psychopathology has rapidly grown, which calls for a systematic and critical analysis of its clinical utility. Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, a systematic review of published empirical studies applying NA in psychopathology, between 2010 and 2017, was conducted. We included
more » ... literature published in PubMed and PsycINFO using as keywords any combination of "network analysis" with the terms "anxiety," "affective disorders," "depression," "schizophrenia," "psychosis," "personality disorders," "substance abuse" and "psychopathology." Results: The review showed that NA has been applied in a plethora of mental disorders in adults (i.e., 13 studies on anxiety disorders; 19 on mood disorders; 7 on psychosis; 1 on substance abuse; 1 on borderline personality disorder; 18 on the association of symptoms between disorders), and 6 on childhood and adolescence. Conclusions: A critical examination of the results of each study suggests that NA helps to identify, in an innovative way, important aspects of psychopathology like the centrality of the symptoms in a given disorder as well as the mutual dynamics among symptoms. Yet, despite these promising results, the clinical utility of NA is still uncertain as there are important limitations on the analytic procedures (e.g., reliability of indices), the type of data included (e.g., typically restricted to secondary analysis of already published data), and ultimately, the psychometric and clinical validity of the results.
doi:10.1159/000497425 fatcat:qz7ta623xnexta2e4x2cmtsbvm