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Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Oct 1;58(7):569-75. Epub 2005 Jun 13.

Bipolar diagnoses in community mental health: Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist profiles and patterns of comorbidity.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7123, USA.



There are converging findings about pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) in terms of associated comorbidity and behavior problem profiles on the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). However, no study has examined clinical or demographic characteristics of youths clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder in a low-income, diverse community clinical sample.


Archival data (N = 3086 cases) from six urban community mental health centers (CMHC) were reviewed to determine the base rate of bipolar disorder and the demographic and clinical characteristics (comorbidity and CBCL profiles) associated with the diagnosis.


Roughly 6% of the sample received clinical diagnoses of PBD. Patterns of comorbidity and CBCL profiles were highly similar to published samples. However, elevated CBCL scores were not specific to bipolar disorder, since they were also frequently high for nonbipolar cases.


There appears to be substantial convergence between the demographic and clinical characteristics of cases clinically diagnosed with PBD versus those diagnosed with semistructured research interviews, strengthening the validity of both sets of diagnoses. At the same time, the CBCL appears to do poorly discriminating clinical diagnoses of PBD, due to the pervasive externalizing behavior problems in CMHC samples and the variable presentation of PBD cases.

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