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Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2012;8:77-107. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032511-143150. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Current issues in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana 70148, USA.


This review evaluates the diagnostic criteria for three of the most common disorders for which children and adolescents are referred for mental health treatment: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorder (CD). Although research supports the validity and clinical utility of these disorders, several issues are highlighted that could enhance the current diagnostic criteria. For ADHD, defining the core features of the disorder and its fit with other disorders, enhancing the validity of the criteria through the lifespan, considering alternative ways to form subtypes of the disorder, and modifying the age-of-onset criterion are discussed relative to the current diagnostic criteria. For ODD, eliminating the exclusionary criteria of CD, recognizing important symptom domains within the disorder, and using the cross-situational pervasiveness of the disorder as an index of severity are highlighted as important issues for improving classification. Finally, for CD, enhancing the current subtypes related to age of onset and integrating callous-unemotional traits into the diagnostic criteria are identified as key issues for improving classification.

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