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Co-developmental Trajectories of Defiant/Headstrong, Irritability, and Prosocial Emotions from Preschool Age to Early Adolescence

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This study ascertains how the proposed subtypes and specifiers of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) based on irritability and prosocial emotions co-develop and describes the clinical characteristics of the resultant classes. A sample of 488 community children was followed up from ages 3 to 12 years and assessed with categorical and dimensional measures answered by parents and teachers. Latent class growth analysis for three parallel processes [defiant/headstrong, irritability, and limited prosocial emotions (LPE)] identified a 4-class model with adequate entropy (.912) and posterior probabilities of class membership (≥ .921). Class 1 (n = 38, 7.9%) was made up of children with defiant/headstrong with chronic irritability and LPE. Class 2 (n = 128, 26.3%) was comprised of children with defiant/headstrong with chronic irritability and typical prosocial emotions. Class 3 (n = 101, 20.7%) clustered children with LPE without defiant/headstrong and without irritability. Class 4 (n = 220, 45.1%) included children with the lowest scores in all the processes. The classes were distinguishable and showed different clinical characteristics through development. These findings support the validity of ICD-11 ODD subtypes based on chronic irritability and may help to guide clinicians’ decision-making regarding treating oppositionality in children.

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This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities [Grant PGC2018-095239-B-I00 (MICIU/FEDER)].

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Correspondence to Lourdes Ezpeleta.

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The project was approved by the Ethics Committee on Animal and Human Experimentation of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

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Ezpeleta, L., Penelo, E., Navarro, J.B. et al. Co-developmental Trajectories of Defiant/Headstrong, Irritability, and Prosocial Emotions from Preschool Age to Early Adolescence. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 53, 908–918 (2022).

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