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Hum Mov Sci. 2001 Mar;20(1-2):7-47.

Clinical and research diagnostic criteria for developmental coordination disorder: a review and discussion.

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Developmental and Experimental Clinical Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2-1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.


The aim of this review was to investigate the selection criteria used in the past in studies of children with developmental motor problems (excluding those suffering from neurological dysfunctions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, etc.). We therefore conducted an extensive analysis of 176 publications. First, an overview of the main characteristics of these studies (terminology, population, type and purpose) and the selection criteria that are reported in these publications are presented. Following this, the DSM-IV selection criteria for developmental coordination disorder (DCD) are contrasted with the selection criteria reported in 41 publications that have used this terminology to classify the children. The results of this comparison show that the inclusion criteria are largely followed, albeit with little consistency concerning selection instruments and quantitative cut-offs, while adherence to the exclusion criteria is not common practice. Strengths and weaknesses of the DSM-IV criteria, complementary to the previous discussion by Henderson and Barnett in the HMS special issue on DCD in 1998 on this same topic, are discussed. The results of the review also show that many studies have used additional selection criteria related to the specific research questions of the study concerned. In the broader context of clinical practice as well as basic research, the latter result suggests the usefulness of a distinction between Clinical Diagnostic Criteria and Research Diagnostic Criteria. This distinction helps to develop a unifying view on the use of diagnostic criteria for research and clinical practice. We conclude with a number of recommendations concerning the selection criteria for children with DCD.

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