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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2014 Jan;42(1):37-48. doi: 10.1007/s10802-013-9801-5.

Structure and validity of sluggish cognitive tempo using an expanded item pool in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA,


We evaluated the latent structure and validity of an expanded pool of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) items. An experimental rating scale with 44 candidate SCT items was administered to parents and teachers of 165 children in grades 2-5 (ages 7-11) recruited for a randomized clinical trial of a psychosocial intervention for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type. Exploratory factor analyses (EFA) were used to extract items with high loadings (>0.59) on primary factors of SCT and low cross-loadings (0.30 or lower) on other SCT factors and on the Inattention factor of ADHD. Items were required to meet these criteria for both informants. This procedure reduced the pool to 15 items. Generally, items representing slowness and low initiative failed these criteria. SCT factors (termed Daydreaming, Working Memory Problems, and Sleepy/Tired) showed good convergent and discriminant validity in EFA and in a confirmatory model with ADHD factors. Simultaneous regressions of impairment and comorbidity on SCT and ADHD factors found that Daydreams was associated with global impairment, and Sleepy/Tired was associated with organizational problems and depression ratings, across both informants. For teachers, Daydreams also predicted ODD (inversely); Sleepy/Tired also predicted poor academic behavior, low social skills, and problem social behavior; and Working Memory Problems predicted organizational problems and anxiety. When depression, rather than ADHD, was included among the predictors, the only SCT-related associations rendered insignificant were the teacher-reported associations of Daydreams with ODD; Working Memory Problems with anxiety, and Sleepy/Tired with poor social skills. SCT appears to be meaningfully associated with impairment, even when controlling for depression. Common behaviors resembling Working Memory problems may represent a previously undescribed factor of SCT.

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