Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, iv, 97 pages) :

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Hazel M Prelow

Committee Members

Mitchell S Earleywine, James F Boswell


college, depression, emerging adults, grade of membership, latent class analysis, research methods, Depression in adolescence, College students, Minority college students

Subject Categories



The disease burden of major depressive disorder is at its greatest among college-aged individuals, and frequently leads to long-term negative outcomes. However, within and across racial/ethnic groups, there are significant differences in how the disorder manifests and the resulting impact. Conceptualizing depression in a way that accurately reflects this variation is therefore a crucial task. In the current study, grade of membership (GoM) analyses were used to derive “fuzzy set” depression profiles in a college sample for each of the five major racial/ethnic groups in the United States. The primary sample consisted of 22,778 European, African, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and indigenous American college students aged 18 to 25 who participated in the most recent wave of the second National College Health Assessment (NCHA-II). Once profiles had been derived, they were used to identify how symptom patterns, as well as associated treatment-seeking behavior and socio-demographic characteristics, varied across subtypes and across racial groups. Next, the profiles derived through GoM were compared to those found via latent class analysis (LCA), demonstrating the advantages of a fuzzy set approach. Finally, replicating all analyses with a second dataset provided a measure of reliability for the study findings. These findings not only suggest severity of depression is better represented as a continuum than as discrete type membership, which has important implications for diagnosis and intervention, but also demonstrate the benefits to exploring alternative analytical methods for the field of psychology as a whole.

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Psychology Commons