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Keywords:

  • Reactive Attachment Disorder;
  • observation;
  • assessment

Objective:  To develop a brief standardised observational schedule for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in school-age children to aid clinician recognition of these behaviours.

Design:  A new structured observational schedule for symptoms of RAD was developed using unstructured observation of children in a clinic waiting room setting. The measure’s ability to discriminate between a sample of children with RAD and a normative sample was established by comparing scores in these two groups.

Method:  Children aged 5–8 years (n = 77 [38 RAD cases and 39 controls]) were observed with their primary caregiver in a standardised waiting room setting. A structured observational tool was developed that tested the reliability, sensitivity and specificity of each item.

Results:  The schedule has good internal consistency (0.75). The individual items on the observational schedule were predominantly highly discriminatory between cases and comparisons, showing both reasonable sensitivity and excellent specificity. Certain questions were dropped due to poor discrimination and/or poor inter-rater reliability.

Conclusion:  The 10-item observational schedule for RAD in school-age children provides a promising tool for assessment, although further research will be required to evaluate its ability to discriminate between RAD and other disorders.