Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 287-313

First online:

Correspondence between statistically derived behavior problem syndromes and child psychiatric diagnoses in a community sample

  • Madelyn S. GouldAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Columbia UniversitySchool of Public Health, Columbia UniversityNew York State Psychiatric Institute
  • , Hector BirdAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Columbia UniversityNew York State Psychiatric Institute
  • , Beatrix Staghezza JaramilloAffiliated withNew York State Psychiatric Institute

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The correspondence between Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (3rd ed.) (DSM-III) diagnoses and statistically derived syndromes was examined within a community sample of children and adolescents in Puerto Rico. Specifically, the extent to which behavior dimensions, derived from the Child Behavior Checklist and the Youth Self-Report, corresponded to psychiatric diagnoses, derived from parent and child versions of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, was examined. The alternative approaches for assessing psychopathology in children and adolescents were compared against external validators. The results indicated a meaningful convergence between DSM-III diagnoses and statistical syndromes; however, a one-to-one correspondence did not emerge. Little evidence was found for “diagnostic thresholds.” There was no evidence of the superiority of either the statistically derived syndromes or the DSM-III diagnoses. The incorporation of a measure of impairment improved the validity of both approaches. Adding parental reports to the selfreports of adolescents yielded little gain in the validity of either the statistical or diagnostic approach. The implications for the definition and assessment of child and adolescent disorders are discussed.