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DSM-IV field trials for the disruptive behavior disorders: symptom utility estimates.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa 35487.



We tested the predictive utility of symptoms for proposed DSM-IV definitions of the disruptive behavior disorders using indices corrected for symptom and diagnosis base rates.


The field trials sample consisted of 440 clinic-referred youths who were consecutive referrals to a heterogeneous group of mental health clinics. Multiple informants were interviewed to determine the presence of symptoms and diagnoses.


Some symptoms which were either not in DSM-III or DSM-III-R, or were modifications of DSM-III-R symptoms, had greater diagnostic efficiency than did several existing symptoms. Symptom utility estimates were generally similar for different ages and genders, although some interesting age and sex trends emerged for a few symptoms.


The results supported the inclusion of more restricted definitions of "lying" and "truancy" to increase their association with a conduct disorder diagnosis and they supported the elimination of "swearing" in the oppositional defiant disorder criteria. In addition to their relevance for developing optimal criteria for DSM-IV, these results can aid DSM-IV users by providing a useful guide to the relative efficiency of individual symptoms based on data from a large heterogeneous clinic population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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