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Patterns of remission and symptom decline in conduct disorder: a four-year prospective study of an ADHD sample.

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Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.



To evaluate systematically the longitudinal course of conduct disorder (CD) in a sample of youths with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to determine the effects of a persistent course on outcome.


One hundred forty children with ADHD and their nuclear families were assessed at baseline and again at 1 and 4 years. Subjects were examined by means of DSM-III-R-based structured interviews. They were also evaluated for cognitive and social functioning. Persistent (exhibiting symptoms of CD at either follow-up) and desistent (symptoms of CD at neither follow-up) cases were identified.


Forty-two percent of CD cases followed a persistent course. Although both persistent and desistent subjects had high rates of antisocial disorders in relatives, increased family conflict and decreased family cohesion were selectively associated with a persistent course. In addition, subjects with persistent symptoms of CD exhibited more impaired ratings on the Aggression and Delinquency subscales of the Child Behavior Checklist, as well as higher rates of bipolar, oppositional defiant, and substance use disorders.


These findings suggest that the poor prognosis associated with CD is limited to an identifiable subgroup with a persistent course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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