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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012 May;51(5):506-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2012.02.020.

Psychiatric diagnostic interviews for children and adolescents: a comparative study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Box 3454 Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



To compare examples of three styles of psychiatric interviews for youth: the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) ("respondent-based"), the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA) ("interviewer-based"), and the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) ("expert judgment").


Roughly equal numbers of males and females of white and African American ethnicity, aged 9 to 12 and 13 to 16 years, were recruited from primary care pediatric clinics. Participants (N = 646) were randomly assigned to receive two of the three interviews, in counterbalanced order. Five modules were used: any depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. At two sessions about 1 week apart, parent and child completed one of two interviews plus five screening questionnaires.


When interviewed with the DAWBA, 17.7% of youth had one or more diagnoses, compared with 47.1% (DISC) and 32.4% (CAPA). The excess of DISC diagnoses was accounted for by specific phobias. Agreement between interview pairs was 0.13 to 0.48 for DAWBA-DISC comparisons, 0.21 to 0.61 for DISC-CAPA comparisons, and 0.23 to 0.48 for CAPA-DAWBA comparisons. DAWBA-only cases were associated with higher parent-report questionnaire scores than DISC/DAWBA cases, but equivalent child-report scores.


The DAWBA is shorter and cases were probably more severe, making it a good choice for clinical trials, but the user cannot examine the data in detail. The DISC and CAPA are similar in length and training needs. Either would be a better choice where false-negative results must be avoided, as in case-control genetic studies, or when researchers need to study individual symptoms in detail.

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