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Informant Agreement in the Assessment of Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Detained Minors in Belgium: A Diagnosis-Level and Symptom-Level Examination

Olivier Colins, M.Ed.; Robert Vermeiren, M.D., Ph.D.; Gilberte Schuyten, Ph.D.; Eric Broekaert, Ph.D.; and Veerle Soyez, Ph.D.


Objective: Because diagnostic assessment of children emphasizes information from multiple informants, the reliability of findings in detained and incarcerated samples may be hampered. The objective of the current study was to examine parent-child agreement with regard to disruptive behavior disorders (with or without impairment) and disorder-related symptoms in detained male youths.

Method: Between January 2005 and February 2007, a representative sample of 150 detainees, 12 to 17 years old, from the 3 Youth Detention Centers for boys in Flanders, Belgium, and 1 parent of each were interviewed with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, Version IV (DISC-IV). Interviewees were selected consecutively on the basis of Belgian origin for practical, financial, and time-related reasons. Of the 150 participants, 9 were excluded and the parents of 26 could not be included for various reasons, and thus full data were obtained for 115 parents.

Results: Overall poor parent-child agreement at the disorder and symptom level was found, which is consistent with previous studies. Parents reported significantly more unique information on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (p < .001) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) (p < .001), while youths reported significantly more unique conduct disorder (CD)-related information (p = .01).

Conclusion: The large proportion of parents uniquely reporting ADHD and ODD supports previous concerns about the reliability of self-reported ADHD and ODD and suggests an essential contribution by parents to the accurate assessment of these disorders in adolescent detainees. With regard to CD, it may be appropriate to rely on youth self-report.

(J Clin Psychiatry 2008;69:141-148)


Received May 11, 2007; accepted Sept. 20, 2007. From the Departments of Special Education (Mr. Colins and Drs. Broekaert and Soyez) and Data Analysis (Dr. Schuyten), Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium; and the Department of Child Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Center/Curium, Leiden, and the Department of Forensic Youth Psychiatry, Free University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Dr. Vermeiren).

This study was supported in part by a doctoral fellowship awarded to Mr. Colins by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University.

The authors report no additional financial or other relationships relevant to the subject of this article.

Corresponding author and reprints: Olivier Colins, M.Ed., Department of Special Education, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium (e-mail: olivier.colins@ugent.be).