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Keywords:

  • Conduct disorder;
  • DSM-V

This article charts a strategic research course toward an empirical foundation for the diagnosis of conduct disorder in the forthcoming DSM-V. Since the DSM-IV appeared in 1994, an impressive amount of new information about conduct disorder has emerged. As a result of this new knowledge, reasonable rationales have been put forward for adding to the conduct disorder diagnostic protocol: a childhood-limited subtype, family psychiatric history, callous-unemotional traits, female-specific criteria, preschool-specific criteria, early substance use, and biomarkers from genetics, neuroimaging, and physiology research. This article reviews the evidence for these and other potential changes to the conduct disorder diagnosis. We report that although there is a great deal of exciting research into each of the topics, very little of it provides the precise sort of evidence base required to justify any alteration to the DSM-V. We outline specific research questions and study designs needed to build the lacking evidence base for or against proposed changes to DSM-V conduct disorder.