Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 602–620 | Cite as

Conduct Problems, Depressive Symptomatology and Their Co-Occurring Presentation in Childhood as Predictors of Adjustment in Early Adolescence

  • Erin M. IngoldsbyEmail author
  • Gwynne O. Kohl
  • Robert J. McMahon
  • Liliana Lengua
  • The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group
Original Paper


The present study investigated patterns in the development of conduct problems (CP), depressive symptoms, and their co-occurrence, and relations to adjustment problems, over the transition from late childhood to early adolescence. Rates of depressive symptoms and CP during this developmental period vary by gender; yet, few studies involving non-clinical samples have examined co-occurring problems and adjustment outcomes across boys and girls. This study investigates the manifestation and change in CP and depressive symptom patterns in a large, multisite, gender-and ethnically-diverse sample of 431 youth from 5th to 7th grade. Indicators of CP, depressive symptoms, their co-occurrence, and adjustment outcomes were created from multiple reporters and measures. Hypotheses regarding gender differences were tested utilizing both categorical (i.e., elevated symptom groups) and continuous analyses (i.e., regressions predicting symptomatology and adjustment outcomes). Results were partially supportive of the dual failure model (Capaldi, 1991, 1992), with youth with co-occurring problems in 5th grade demonstrating significantly lower academic adjustment and social competence two years later. Both depressive symptoms and CP were risk factors for multiple negative adjustment outcomes. Co-occurring symptomatology and CP demonstrated more stability and was associated with more severe adjustment problems than depressive symptoms over time. Categorical analyses suggested that, in terms of adjustment problems, youth with co-occurring symptomatology were generally no worse off than those with CP-alone, and those with depressive symptoms-alone were similar over time to those showing no symptomatology at all. Few gender differences were noted in the relations among CP, depressive symptoms, and adjustment over time.


Depression Conduct problems Comorbidity Adolescence Adjustment Gender differences 



This work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grants R18MH48043, R18MH50951, and R18MH50953. The Center for Substance Use Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have also provided support for Fast Track through a memorandum of agreement with the NIMH. This work was also supported in part by the Department of Education Grant S184U30002, NIMH Grants K05MH00797 and K05MH01027, and NIDA Grant R01DA016903-03. We are grateful for the close collaboration of the Durham Public Schools, the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, the Bellefonte Area Schools, the Tyrone Area Schools, the Mifflin County Schools, the Highline Public Schools, and the Seattle Public Schools. We greatle appreciate the hard work and dedication of the many staff members who implemented the project, collected the evaluation data, and assisted with data management and analyses. The design and analyses for the current study were originally based upon the dissertation project of the second author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin M. Ingoldsby
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Gwynne O. Kohl
    • 2
  • Robert J. McMahon
    • 2
  • Liliana Lengua
    • 2
  • The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Seattle Fast TrackSeattleUSA

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