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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1996 Apr;24(2):151-68.

Scales, diagnoses, and child psychopathology: II. Comparing the CBCL and the DISC against external validators.

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  • 1Child & Adolescent Disorders Research Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Maryland 20857, USA.


Using a multimethod multistage screening procedure, the authors interviewed 201 parents and their children with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC 2.1). In addition, parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and other survey measures, while their children completed self-report scales. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were done to determine optimal cutpoints on the CBCL, referenced to DISC diagnostic "caseness." DISC diagnoses, DISC "stem" symptoms, CBCL scores, and CBCL ROC-outpoints were compared against "external validators," in order to determine the comparative advantages of each approach for assessing child psychopathology. Overall findings suggest that the controversies about "best" assessment strategies may be artificial: When both assessment approaches are compared using similar methods, they are reasonably comparable. However, highly specific diagnostic categories may show fewer relationships with external validators and may therefore need more systematic validational studies.

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