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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1985 Dec;13(4):579-95.

Validity of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children: a comparison between psychiatric and pediatric referrals.


The NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) was used to evaluate 40 psychiatric referrals aged 7-11 and 40 pediatric referrals matched for age, sex, race, and socioeconomic status. Each parent and child was interviewed separately using parallel versions of the interview, DISC-P and DISC-C, and parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). The psychiatric referrals had more psychiatric diagnoses and higher symptom scores than the pediatric referrals. Parent reports discriminated better between the criterion groups than child reports. In both groups, mild oppositional behavior and fears were commonly reported by parents, whereas mild separation anxiety, fears, and dysthymia were commonly reported by children. Attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, and affective disorders were much more common among psychiatrically referred children. There was an association (chi 2 = 37.1, p less than .001) between abnormally high CBCL scores and diagnoses derived from the interview with the parent, but the association between the CBCL and the child interview was not significant. Over all, the results support the validity of the DISC-P, and to a lesser extent that of the DISC-C, in discriminating psychiatric from pediatric referrals, at the level of both symptoms and severe diagnoses, but not at the mild/moderate level of diagnosis.

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