New Conduct Assessment Tool for Children Shows Validity and Accuracy

Conduct issues are becoming a global problem for parents, educators, and children. They usually first appear and early childhood and can be identified through behavioral and psychological screenings, such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The issues that arise from conduct problems include anger, aggression, hostility, academic challenges, social problems, and other behavioral and emotional issues.

Although the SDQ has been shown to be effective at identifying symptoms of conduct disorder, it is lengthy and time consuming. Therefore, Melissa E. Duncombe of the Psychological Sciences Department at the University of Melbourne in Australia wanted to see if an alternative brief assessment would be as effective and provide results that are equal to that of the SDQ.

For her study, Duncombe used the Conduct Problems Risk Screen (CPRS), a seven-item scale, to identify conduct problems in a group of over 4,700 elementary school children. Because traits found in oppositional defiance (ODD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) have been shown to be precursors for later conduct problems, the CPRS was designed to reveal any specific inattentive or aggressive behaviors as well.

Parents and teachers reported their evaluations of children, and Duncombe found that although there was a much higher rating of conduct issues in the parents’ reports, the overall consistency between the two groups was high. Duncombe believes that parents may witness more behavioral problems and may also incorporate family reactions, disciplinary consequences, and other factors into their assessments when filling out the CPRS. Teachers, on the other hand, can only report on what they witness and experience during the school day.

Another strength of the CPRS is that it only takes a few minutes to administer. Unlike the lengthy SDQ, the CPRS can be completed in under two minutes, and may be viewed as more applicable tool with younger children. This can be especially important for early identification of the children at risk for later conduct, ADHD, or ODD issues. Dunscombe added, “The CPRS is a valid and reliable instrument and could be used effectively as a screening tool to identify those children at risk of developing conduct disorder.”

Duncombe, Melissa E., Sophie S. Havighurst, Kerry A. Holland, and Emma J. Frankling. (2012). Psychometric evaluation of a brief parent- and teacher-rated screen for children at risk of conduct disorder. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology 12 (2012): 1-11. Print.

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  • robert

    June 14th, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    conduct issues may not be hard to see but distinguishing mere episodes from a disorder can be difficult.And if a questionnaire helps in collecting the necessary information to actually judge and in such short time then it should be implemented.

  • ellis

    June 15th, 2013 at 4:20 AM

    Conduct disorders- I am sure that much of this is created by the parents and then happens to extend to the classroom. We teach our children how to behave and show them what we accept and what we don’t. So this is basically the fault of the adults in tbeir lives who are in essence supposed to show them the right way to behave but who are essentially failing at that job.

  • Lila F

    June 16th, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    I don’t really think that this is something new, just something that we look at a little more critically now than what we used to.

    There are far too many people today who want these little stepford kids running around instead of just letting kids be kids. Teachers too. It’s like we have tried to take away all of the fun and excitement of childhood and replace it with what we perceive to be perfection.

    Do you think that these “conduct disorders” rae just the kids way of rebelling a little, saying that enough is enough and trying to reclaim a little of that that has been stolen away from them?

  • donald

    June 16th, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    questionnaires are a good source of information and can aid in early diagnosis.but only if done right.if there exists a coordination between parents and teachers I think this can be taken further and its benefits amplified.

    because parents spend a larger amount of time with children than teachers,they can provide inputs about home.and teachers in turn can provide inputs about the behavior of the children under a group setting,where in behavior could change when compared to at home.

  • Ugwu O.

    November 27th, 2016 at 11:08 AM

    Nice piece on conduct disorder. I am a psychology student and interested in studies on conduct disorder but having difficulty getting access to a questionnaire i can use to screen for CD among children/ Adolescents. can I get access to a few from the organization. Thanks

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