Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 759–773 | Cite as

Prevalence and Function of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) in a Community Sample of Adolescents, Using Suggested DSM-5 Criteria for a Potential NSSI Disorder

  • Maria ZetterqvistEmail author
  • Lars-Gunnar Lundh
  • Örjan Dahlström
  • Carl Göran Svedin


Previous prevalence rates of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in adolescents have varied considerably. In the present cross-sectional study, prevalence rates, characteristics and functions of NSSI were assessed in a large randomized community sample consisting of 3,060 (50.5 % female) Swedish adolescents aged 15–17 years. The suggested criteria for NSSI disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, (DSM-5) were used to assess prevalence rates with the aim of arriving at a more precise estimate. Out of the whole sample, 1,088 (35.6 %) adolescents (56.2 % female) reported at least one episode of NSSI during the last year, of which 205 (6.7 %) met suggested DSM-5 criteria for a potential NSSI disorder diagnosis. The NSSI disorder diagnosis was significantly more common in girls (11.1 % vs. 2.3 %, χ 2 (1, N = 3046) = 94.08, p < 0.001, cOR = 5.43, 95 % CI [3.73, 7.90]). The NSSI disorder group consisted of significantly more smokers and drug users compared to adolescents with NSSI that did not meet DSM-5 criteria for NSSI disorder, and also differed concerning demographic variables. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted on reported functions of NSSI, with the aim of validating Nock and Prinstein’s (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 72:885–890, 2004, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 114:140–146, 2005) four-factor model on a Swedish community sample, resulting in a close to acceptable fit. A two-factor model (social and automatic reinforcement) resulted in a slightly better fit. The most frequently reported factors were positive and negative automatic reinforcement. A majority of functions were significantly more often reported by girls than boys. The implications of the suggested DSM-5 criteria and reported functions are discussed.


Non-suicidal self-injury disorder DSM-5 Prevalence Function Adolescents 



This study was supported by grants to Maria Zetterqvist from Clas Groschinsky’s Memorial Foundation, Sven Jerring Foundation and Östergötland County Council research support for licensed employees in professional healthcare. Medical student Hanna Högberg provided valuable assistance during the data collection.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Zetterqvist
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Lars-Gunnar Lundh
    • 2
  • Örjan Dahlström
    • 3
  • Carl Göran Svedin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine; Child and Adolescent PsychiatryLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral Sciences and Learning; The Swedish Institute for Disability ResearchLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  4. 4.Child- and Adolescent Psychiatric ClinicUniversity HospitalLinköpingSweden

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