Adolescent outcomes of childhood disorders: the consequences of severity and impairment.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the adolescent consequences of clinical and threshold-level psychiatric disorders, with and without significant functional impairment; to predict serious emotional disturbance (SED: clinical-level diagnosis with impairment); and to examine sex differences in the consequences of emotional and behavioral disorders. METHOD: 300 children aged 7 through 11 years were recruited from urban and suburban offices of a large health maintenance organization (HMO). Child and parent were interviewed at home using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC), version 1.3. Five to 7 years later, 278 (93%) of the sample were reinterviewed using the DISC-2.1. RESULTS: There was considerable continuity of psychopathology, particularly in children with functional impairment. Behavioral disorders at every level of severity predicted adolescent SED in both sexes. For emotional disorders, girls but not boys with childhood SED had significantly higher levels of adolescent SED. CONCLUSIONS: Childhood disorders falling below the level of severity required to meet criteria for treatment set by many HMOs or insurance companies nevertheless can carry a significantly increased risk for severe pathology years later. Functional impairment played an important role in the adolescent consequences of childhood psychiatric disorder.
Costello, EJ; Angold, A; Keeler, GP
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