Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 115–128 | Cite as

Trajectories of Oppositional Defiant Disorder Irritability Symptoms in Preschool Children

  • Lourdes Ezpeleta
  • Roser Granero
  • Núria de la Osa
  • Esther Trepat
  • Josep M. Domènech


This study traces the developmental course of irritability symptoms in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) from ages 3–5 and examines the psychopathological outcomes of the different trajectories at age 6. Method. A sample of 622 3-year-old preschoolers (311 were boys), followed up until age 6, was assessed yearly with a semi-structured diagnostic interview with parents and at age 6 with questionnaires answered by parents, teachers and children. Results. Growth-Mixture-Modeling yielded five trajectories of irritability levels for the whole sample (high-persistent 3.5 %, decreasing 3.8 %, increasing 2.6 %, low-persistent 44.1 % and null 46.0 %). Among the children who presented with ODD during preschool age, three trajectories of irritability symptoms resulted (high-persistent 31.9 %, decreasing 34.9 % and increasing 33.2 %). Null, low-persistent and decreasing irritability courses in the sample as a whole gave very similar discriminative capacity for children’s psychopathological state at age 6, while the increasing and high-persistent categories involved poorer clinical outcomes than the null course. For ODD children, the high-persistent and increasing trajectories of irritability predicted disruptive behavior disorders, comorbidity, high level of functional impairment, internalizing and externalizing problems and low anger control at age 6. Conclusions. Irritability identifies a subset of ODD children at high risk of poorer longitudinal psychopathological and functional outcomes. It might be clinically relevant to identify this subset of ODD children with a high number of irritability symptoms throughout development with a view to preventing comorbid and future adverse longitudinal outcomes.


Developmental trajectories Irritability Oppositional defiant Preschool 



Funding was from Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness grant PSI2012-32695. We would like to thank the participating schools and families. Thanks to the Comissionat per a Universitats i Recerca, Departament d’Economia I Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya (2014 SGR 312).

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interests.

Supplementary material

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Table S1 (DOC 94 kb)
10802_2015_9972_MOESM2_ESM.doc (95 kb)
Table S2 (DOC 95 kb)
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Table S3 (DOC 100 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lourdes Ezpeleta
    • 1
  • Roser Granero
    • 2
  • Núria de la Osa
    • 1
  • Esther Trepat
    • 3
    • 4
  • Josep M. Domènech
    • 2
  1. 1.Unitat d’Epidemiologia i de Diagnòstic en Psicopatologia del Desenvolupament - Grup de Recerca 2014 SGR 312 Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament de Psicologia Clínica i de la SalutUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Unitat d’Epidemiologia i de Diagnòstic en Psicopatologia del Desenvolupament - Grup de Recerca 2014 SGR 312 Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament de Psicobiologia i Metodologia de les Ciències de la SalutUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Departament de Psicologia Clínica i de la SalutUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Institut de PsicologiaBarcelonaSpain

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