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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2016 Jul;25(7):743-54. doi: 10.1007/s00787-015-0796-z. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Longitudinal associations between conduct problems and depressive symptoms among girls and boys with early conduct problems.

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Department of Education, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300, allée des Ursulines, C. P. 3300, succ. A, Rimouski, QC, G5L 3A1, Canada.
Department of Psychoeducation, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada.


Youth with conduct problems (CP) may experience high rates of depressive symptoms (DS). However, little is known about the direction of the longitudinal associations between CP and DS in this specific population. Although girls with CP appear at greater risk than boys for presenting comorbid depression, empirical research on gender differences in these associations is even sparser. The current study used autoregressive latent trajectory models to compare four perspectives with hypotheses regarding the longitudinal associations between CP and DS, while taking into account the evolution of both problems. We also examined gender differences in the longitudinal associations. A total of 345 children (40.6 % female) presenting with a high level of CP in early elementary school (mean age at study inception = 8.52; SD = .94) were evaluated annually over a four-year period (5 measurement time points). The results revealed that CP and DS were quite stable over time. Moreover, CP and DS showed strong covariation at each measurement time point, but only one significant positive cross-lagged association between the two processes, indicating that higher levels of DS at time 3 were associated with higher levels of CP 1 year later. No differences were observed in the longitudinal associations between CP and DS in boys and girls. Given the comorbidity and stability of CP and DS, these findings suggest that DS should be systematically evaluated among children with early clinically significant CP, and treatment plans should include interventions aimed at both CP and DS among children who present with both types of problems.


Comorbidity; Conduct problems; Depression; Gender; Longitudinal

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