Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 453-471

External validation of oppositional disorder and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity

  • Carl E. PaterniteAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Miami University
  • , Jan LoneyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, SUNY Stony Brook
  • , Mary Ann RobertsAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Iowa

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Validity of the distinction between oppositional disorder (OD) and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADDH) was examined in a sample of 6- to 12-year-old boys with behavior problems. Problem identification, cognitive/attentional, family context, and behavioral symptom differences were examined among nine boys with OD only, 20 with ADDH, 40 with comorbid OD and ADDH, and 28 with neither disruptive behavior disorder. Systematic comparisons of groups including and excluding the OD and ADDH diagnoses were undertaken to determine the existence of pure OD and pure ADDH disorder effects. The most consistent result was the lack of evidence for either pure OD or pure ADDH effects. Most of the significant findings reflected differences between the nondisruptive (neither) and comorbid groups. The results support the importance of comorbidity, but they provide little support for disorder-specific distinctions between oppositional and attention deficit disorders.