Prediction of Dutch Adults’ Psychiatric Disorders from CBCL Scores Obtained 24 Years Earlier

In 1983, a representative general population sample of Dutch 4- to 16-year-olds was assessed with CBCLs completed by their parents. The children were then reassessed periodically with the CBCL, TRF, YSR, and other measures, culminating 24 years later with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and three sections of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS), when the participants were 28 to 40 years old (Reef et al., 2010). Diagnoses of psychiatric disorders were based on participants’ reports of their functioning over the preceding 12 months.

Among the 1,339 participants who were interviewed 24 years after their parents completed the CBCL, those whose initial CBCL Total Problems scores exceeded the 85th percentile had significantly elevated rates of disruptive disorders (Antisocial Personality Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). In addition, the following DSM-oriented scales scored from the Time 1 CBCL significantly predicted particular types of adult disorders, based on the diagnostic interviews with the adult participants: CBCL Anxiety Problems predicted adult anxiety disorders; CBCL Oppositional Defiant Problems predicted adult mood disorders; and CBCL Conduct Problems predicted both adult mood disorders and adult disruptive disorders. The authors concluded that “Adult psychiatrists should be aware of childhood predictors of later psychopathology, because treatment of adult psychiatric disorders may depend on different preceding childhood psychopathology” (p. 1123).

Reference: Reef, J., van Meurs, I., Verhulst, F.C., & van der Ende, J. (2010). Children’s problems predict adults’ DSM-IV disorders across 24 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 1117-1124.