Systematic Review: Questionnaire-Based Measurement of Emotion Dysregulation in Children and Adolescents

Elsevier, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2022
Gabrielle F. Freitag, Hannah L. Grassie, Annie Jeong, Ajitha Mallidi, Jonathan S. Comer, Jill Ehrenreich-May, Melissa A. Brotman

Emotion dysregulation, understood as a critical transdiagnostic factor in the etiology and maintenance of psychopathology, is among the most common reasons youth are referred for psychiatric care. The present systematic review examined 2 decades of questionnaires used to assess emotion (dys)regulation in youth.

Using “emotion (dys)regulation,” PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched for empirical, peer-reviewed journal studies published before May 2021 in clinical and/or nonclinical youth. A total of 510 studies met selection criteria and were included.

Across the literature, 115 distinct self-, parent-, or other informant–reported measures of emotion (dys)regulation were used in cross-sectional (67.1%), longitudinal (22.4%), intervention (9.0%), and mixed design (1.6%) studies. Out of 115 different questionnaires, a subset of 5 measures of emotion (dys)regulation were used in most of the literature (ie, 59.6% of studies). Moreover, reviewed studies examined emotion (dys)regulation in more than 20 distinct clinical groups, further supporting emotion dysregulation as a transdiagnostic construct.

Numerous themes emerged. Broadly, measures differed in their ability to capture internal vs external components of emotion dysregulation, the use of adaptive vs maladaptive responses, and subjective experiences more broadly vs particular affective states. These findings serve to guide researchers and clinicians in selecting appropriate measurement tools for assessing specific domains of child and adolescent emotion dysregulation.