An epidemiological study of ADHD and conduct disorder: does family conflict moderate the association?

  • Inga Dora SigfusdottirEmail author
  • Bryndis Bjork Asgeirsdottir
  • Hildigunnur Anna Hall
  • Jon Fridrik Sigurdsson
  • Susan Young
  • Gisli H. Gudjonsson
Original Paper



To examine the role of family conflict in the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder (CD).


A cross-sectional national population survey was carried out among 10,838 14–16 year old students in all secondary schools in Iceland. Three latent measures, financial status, ADHD and CD, and one observed measure, family structure, were included in the study. A structural equation model was used to evaluate direct effects between ADHD and CD for four different groups; females and males, experiencing family conflict and those not experiencing family conflict.


ADHD was significantly and positively associated with CD for all groups. When controlling for financial status and family structure it was found that ADHD was positively and significantly associated with CD for adolescent females and males not experiencing family conflict as well as for those experiencing family conflict. The link between ADHD and CD was significantly stronger for those adolescents who had experienced family conflict compared to those who had not experienced family conflict. These results suggest that family conflict moderates the association between ADHD and CD for both girls and boys.


The results of this study indicate that family environment and ADHD symptoms are important when predicting CD among adolescent youth. Most notably, family conflict exacerbates the effects of ADHD symptoms on CD among both females and males.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Conduct disorder Family conflict Adolescents 


Compliance with ethical standards


Data was collected in accordance with the requirements of Iceland’s Privacy and Data Protection Authority, which include rules on anonymity and informed consent. The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inga Dora Sigfusdottir
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bryndis Bjork Asgeirsdottir
    • 1
  • Hildigunnur Anna Hall
    • 1
  • Jon Fridrik Sigurdsson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Susan Young
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Gisli H. Gudjonsson
    • 1
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyReykjavik UniversityReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Teacher’s CollegeColumbia UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.University of Iceland, Landspitali-The National University Hospital of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  4. 4.Imperial College of Science, Technology and MedicineUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.West London Mental HealthBroadmoor Hospital, Regional Secure Unit, St Bernard’s HospitalSouthallUK
  6. 6.Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Centre for Mental Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  7. 7.King’s College London, Institute of PsychiatryLondonUK

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