European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 153–163 | Cite as

Prediction of adolescent outcome in children with disruptive behaviour disorders

A study of neurobiological, psychological and family factors
  • Irene van BokhovenEmail author
  • Walter Matthys
  • Stephanie H. M. van Goozen
  • Herman van Engeland


In this preliminary study we explored the predictive influence of various family, psychological, demographic, and neurobiological characteristics on the persistence of antisocial behaviour in adolescence. Existing data were combined with case-records in a sample of 47 disruptive behaviour disordered (DBD) children who had been treated in in-patient and/or day-treatment units when they were between seven to 12 years old. Parent-rated and self-rated externalizing problem scores and the presence of a DBD diagnosis served as the outcome measures in adolescence. We used linear regression analyses to examine the predictors of adolescent outcome. A lower basal skin conductance level (SCL) was repeatedly found to predict poor adolescent outcome, either when rated by parents or by participants themselves. In addition, comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, one aspect of performance on the door-opening task, and a mother of low socioeconomic status also predicted that a child would have more antisocial problems in adolescence, depending on the type of outcome measure. Results of this study support the fearlessness theory, according to which low activity of the autonomous nervous system, as manifested by low SCL, is related to the effectiveness of socializing punishment and accordingly to poor socialization and adolescent outcome.

Key words

DBD predictors adolescent outcome fearlessness 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene van Bokhoven
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walter Matthys
    • 1
  • Stephanie H. M. van Goozen
    • 2
  • Herman van Engeland
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, B01–324University Medical Centre UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityCardiff CF103YG, WalesUK

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