Symptom-based diagnostic formulations significantly influence psychological treatment; however, they are not without limitations. Employing a transdiagnostic approach may address these shortcomings. For transdiagnosis to gain wider acceptance, it is crucial to establish a meaningful connection between transdiagnostic measures and symptom expression. Two potential transdiagnostic measures, the Event Characteristics Questionnaire (ECQ) and the Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Needs Frustration Scale (BPNSNFS), were identified based on theories of psychopathology. The present study investigated whether the unique within-person characteristics assessed by each scale could indicate symptom expression over time.
Online questionnaires were completed by 290 international participants (86% female) who had experienced a significant event within the past 12 months. The measures included the ECQ, BPNSNFS, and clinical assessments of depression, anxiety, and anger.
Results indicated that only the BPNSNFS demonstrated a meaningful connection with symptom expression. A cross-lagged structural analysis revealed that participants experiencing higher levels of needs frustration reported higher levels of depression and anger. Conversely, those reporting higher levels of needs satisfaction reported lower levels of depression and anxiety.
The findings suggest that the BPNSNFS can serve as a valuable transdiagnostic tool to enhance the delivery of measure-based care. Further research should continue to explore the clinical role of basic psychological needs.