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Factor Structure of the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale among Early Adolescents: Results from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study

NCJ Number
Jacqueline E. Smith; Hannah R. Brinkman; Angelo M. DiBello; Jessica L. Hamilton; Teresa M. Leyro; Brianna R. Altman; Samantha G. Farris
Date Published
June 2024
11 pages

This paper reports on a study that examined the Difficulties in Emotional Regulation Scale (DERS) factor structure through an a-priori three-pronged approach, and discusses the implications of research findings.


Emotion regulation (ER) deficits in early adolescence are associated with subsequent negative health consequences, including anxiety and depression. Yet, limited work has evaluated the factor structure of measures of ER deficits in early adolescents, leaving a methodological gap for at-risk youths. This study examined the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) factor structure in early adolescents (N = 2300) recruited from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. The authors randomly split the sample into two sub-samples (n = 1150 each) and implemented an a-priori three-pronged approach: (1) A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) assessed the fit of the six-factor DERS in Sample 1; (2) An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) identified an alternative factor structure in Sample 1; and (3) A second CFA assessed the new model in Sample 2. A bi-factor model was also used to assess the global structure of the DERS total and subscales. The original six-factor model yielded poor-to-adequate fit. EFA results supported an alternative five-factor model with different item mappings and ten omitted items. CFA results supported the five-factor solution with good fit. The bi-factor model, estimating a general factor with the five subscales, also demonstrated good fit. A five-factor structure of the DERS appears supported in a large community sample of early adolescents. Items from the former Awareness and Clarity subscales were combined into a single factor. Nearly all items from the former Strategies subscale were omitted, suggesting there may be developmental considerations rendering those items less relevant. (Published Abstract Provided)