Conduct Disorder in Girls: A Review of the Literature

  • Kate Keenan
  • Rolf Loeber
  • Stephanie Green


The study of Conduct Disorder (CD) has primarily been limited to boys. The lack of research resulted from a premise that CD in girls was rare. However, CD in girls is a relatively common psychiatric diagnosis, and appears to be associated with several serious outcomes, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder and early pregnancy. Understanding gender differences in the course and severity of CD may lead to important information about etiology. Empirical studies on precursors, developmental course, risk factors and treatment for CD in girls are reviewed, while highlighting similarities and differences between girls and boys. Generally, CD symptoms in girls are stable. Precursors to CD in girls probably include Oppositional Defiant Disorder and temperamental factors, but also may include certain negative cognitions. What distinguishes CD in girls is the high risk they have to develop comorbid conditions, especially internalizing disorders. Risk factors for CD in girls partly overlap with those known for boys, but some factors appear to be highly salient for girls. Finally, there may be some significant effects of gender on treatment efficacy. Implications of these findings for future etiologic research are discussed.

Girls sex differences conduct disorder development risk factors comorbidity treatment 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Keenan
    • 1
  • Rolf Loeber
    • 2
  • Stephanie Green
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of ChicagoChicago
  2. 2.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicPittsburgh

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