Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1133–1145 | Cite as

Longitudinal Profiles of Girls’ Irritable, Defiant and Antagonistic Oppositional Symptoms: Evidence for Group Based Differences in Symptom Severity

  • Khrista BoylanEmail author
  • Richard Rowe
  • Eric Duku
  • Irwin Waldman
  • Stephanie Stepp
  • Alison Hipwell
  • Jeffrey Burke


Three subdimensions of ODD symptoms have been proposed –angry/irritable (IR), argumentative/defiant (DF) and antagonism (AN). This study tested whether longitudinal symptom trajectories could be identified by these subdimensions. Group-based trajectory analysis was used to identify developmental trajectories of IR, DF and AN symptoms. Multi-group trajectory analysis was then used to identify how subdimension trajectories were linked together over time. Data were drawn from the Pittsburgh Girls Study (PGS; N = 2450), an urban community sample of girls between the ages of five--eight at baseline. We included five waves of annual data across ages five-13 to model trajectories. Three trajectories were identified for each ODD subdimension: DF and AN were characterized by high, medium and low severity groups; IR was characterized by low, medium stable, and high increasing groups. Multi-trajectory analysis confirmed these subdimensions were best linked together based on symptom severity. We did not identify girls’ trajectory groups that were characterized predominantly by a particular subdimension of ODD symptoms. Membership in more severe symptom groups was significantly associated with worse outcomes five years later. In childhood and early adolescence girls with high levels of ODD symptoms can be identified, and these youth are characterized by a persistently elevated profile of IR, DF and AN symptoms. Further studies in clinical samples are required to examine the ICD-10 proposal that ODD with irritability is a distinct or more severe form of ODD.


Oppositional Trajectory Girls Longitudinal 



Special thanks to our dedicated research team, and to the participants for their many contributions to this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The Pittsburgh Girls Study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH056630), the FISA Foundation and the Falk Fund. The manuscript preparation was supported by an early career award to Dr. Boylan from the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, and a grant to Dr. Burke (MH095969) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Conflicts of Interest

Drs Boylan, Rowe, Duku, Waldman, Stepp, Hipwell and Burke have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the instutitional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khrista Boylan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Richard Rowe
    • 3
  • Eric Duku
    • 1
  • Irwin Waldman
    • 4
  • Stephanie Stepp
    • 5
  • Alison Hipwell
    • 5
  • Jeffrey Burke
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural NeurosciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.McMaster Children’s HospitalHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyEmory UniversityAtlantaGeorgia
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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