The ability of CBCL DSM-oriented scales to predict DSM-IV diagnoses in a referred sample of children and adolescents

Monica Bellina, Paolo Brambilla, Marco Garzitto, Gioia A L Negri, Massimo Molteni, Maria Nobile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of studies examining associations between clinical-diagnostic and empirical-quantitative approaches have concentrated only on the target diagnosis without taking into account any possible co-variation of psychopathological traits, which is intrinsic to child psychopathology. The ability of child behaviour checklist (CBCL) DSM-oriented scales (DOSs) to predict target and other DSM diagnoses, taking into consideration the covariation of psychopathological traits, was analysed by logistic regression analysis. Corresponding odds ratio (OR) was used as indicator of the strength of the relationship between the clinical score in DOSs and the presence of DSM-IV diagnoses. Logistic regression allowed us to consider multiple scales simultaneously, thus addressing the problem of co-occurrence of psychopathological traits, and to include gender and age as covariates. The sample consisted of 360 children and adolescents aged 6-16 years, consecutively referred for behavioural and emotional problems. As a whole, the CBCL DOSs seem to be more specific but with a weaker association with DSM-IV diagnoses than syndrome scales, and with some distinctive features: clinical scores in the anxiety DOS suggest a diagnosis of both anxiety and mood disorder; clinical scores in the somatic problems DOS are very strong and specific predictors for diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder; clinical scores in the oppositional defiant problems DOS are not only predictors of the oppositional defiant disorder but are also strong predictors of generalized anxiety disorder; clinical scores in the conduct problems DOS are a specific and strong predictor for oppositional defiant disorder. Results confirm the clinical usefulness of CBCL and suggest using both syndrome and DOS scales for a complete and accurate assessment of children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-246
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Adolescents
  • Assessment
  • Children, child behaviour checklist
  • DSM-IV diagnoses
  • DSM-oriented scales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Philosophy
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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