A systematic review of the latent structure of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) amongst adolescents

Joanna M. Blodgett, Chantelle C. Lachance, Brendon Stubbs, Melissa Co, Yu Tzu Wu, Matthew Prina, Vivian W.L. Tsang, Theodore D. Cosco*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) is a commonly used psychometric scale of depression. A four-factor structure (depressed affect, positive affect, somatic symptoms, and interpersonal difficulties) was initially identified in an American sample aged 18 to 65. Despite emerging evidence, a latent structure has not been established in adolescents. This review aimed to investigate the factor structure of the CES-D in adolescents. Methods: We searched Web of Science, PsychINFO and Scopus and included peer-reviewed, original studies assessing the factor structure of the 20-item CES-D in adolescents aged ≤18. Two independent researchers screened results and extracted data. Results: Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were primarily from school-based samples in the USA or Asia. Studies that conducted confirmatory factor analysis (CFA; n = 9) reported a four-factor structure consistent with the original factor structure; these studies were primarily USA-based. Conversely, studies that conducted exploratory factor analysis (EFA) reported distinct two or three factor structures (n = 4) and were primarily based in Asia. Limitations: Studies in a non-English language and those that included individuals aged > 18 years were excluded. Ethnic or cultural differences as well as different analytical methods impacted generalisability of results. The use of CFA as the primary analysis may have biased towards a four-factor structure. Conclusions: A four-factor CES-D structure was an appropriate fit for adolescents in Western countries; further research is required to determine the fit in in Asian countries. This has important implications for clinical use of the scale. Future research should consider how cultural differences shape the experience of depression in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number197
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Adolescents
  • Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale
  • Depression
  • Factor structure
  • Psychometric


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