Conduct disorder in referred children and adolescents: clinical and therapeutic issues

Gabriele Masi, Annarita Milone, Azzurra Manfredi, Cinzia Pari, Antonella Paziente, Stefania Millepiedi

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Abstract

Objective: Studies on referred children and adolescents with conduct disorder (CD) have relevant implications for prevention and treatment. We addressed this issue in a large sample of youths with CD, considering age at onset, sex, and response to treatments as variables. Methods: The sample consisted of 198 patients (153 males and 45 females; age range, 8-18 years; mean age, 13.2 ± 2.6 years), consecutively diagnosed as having CD during a 5-year period. The diagnoses were based on fulfillment of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria, according to historical information, prolonged observations, and a clinical interview (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version). Three subtypes of aggressive behaviors-"predatory" (controlled, planned, and goal-oriented), "affective" (impulsive, explosive, and unprofitable), and "mixed" (with both the features)-were considered in this study. Results: Patients with prepubertal onset were younger at referral and had a poorer socioeconomic status. Their condition was more severe at the baseline, but their response to treatments did not differ from those with adolescent onset. Predatory and affective aggression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder comorbidity were higher in children with prepubertal-onset CD. Regarding to sex, females were older and had a lower socioeconomic status. Their condition was more severe at the baseline and presented higher scores in self-aggression, but they responded better to treatments. Rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were significantly lower in females, whereas other comorbidities (including substance abuse) were similar between sexes. Nonresponders to treatments received less frequently a psychosocial intervention, have more severe condition at the baseline, presented a more severe verbal and physical aggression, a lower affective/predatory index, and a higher rate of substance abuse. Conclusions: Age at onset and sex may be critical variables for prognosis of CD. Psychosocial intervention can significantly improve the treatment response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Volume49
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)

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