Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
The role of callous and unemotional traits in the diagnosis of conduct disorder
Article first published online: 18 DEC 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 51, Issue 6, pages 688–695, June 2010
How to Cite
Rowe, R., Maughan, B., Moran, P., Ford, T., Briskman, J. and Goodman, R. (2010), The role of callous and unemotional traits in the diagnosis of conduct disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51: 688–695. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02199.x
- Issue published online: 10 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 18 DEC 2009
- Manuscript accepted 6 October 2009
- Antisocial behaviour;
- conduct disorder;
Background: Callous and unemotional (CU) traits might usefully subtype DSM-IV conduct disorder (CD). We investigate this hypothesis in a large, nationally representative sample of 5–16-year-olds. We also examine the characteristics of children with high CU traits but without CD.
Methods: Data come from the 2004 British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Survey including 7,977 children, 5,326 of whom were followed up after 3 years. DSM-IV diagnoses of psychiatric disorder were based on parent, teacher and child report. CU traits were assessed by parent report.
Results: Of the 2% of the sample who were diagnosed with DSM-IV CD, 46.1% were high on CU traits. In addition, 2.9% of the sample were high on CU traits without CD. Children with CD and CU traits showed more severe behavioural disturbance and were at substantially higher risk of CD diagnosis 3 years later. Children high on CU traits without CD showed evidence of disturbed functioning.
Conclusions: Subtyping CD using CU traits identifies children with more severe and persistent psychopathology. Children with high CU traits but no CD diagnosis require further investigation.