Psychopathology and family variables of relatives of children with conduct disorder: A family study

Mary Kay Aebly, Pace University


There is continued interest in the influence of biological, psychological, and sociological factors on conduct disorder. A review of the literature reveals conduct disorder to be associated with family psychopathology. The current project investigates the association of family variables: psychopathology, especially antisocial personality disorder, alcohol and substance abuse; assaultive behavior, marital discord, family violence, socioeconomic status, and life stress on the prepubertal onset of conduct disorder using the Family History-Research Diagnostic Criterion interview method, the Schedule for Affective Disorders, and Schizophrenia-Lifetime Version (SADS-L), the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorder and Schizophrenia-Present Episode and Epiodemiological Version, the Coddington Life Change Rating Questionnaire, and other semi-structured interview techniques. Child subjects (ages 4-14; n = 133) were attained from a follow up family study of former hospitalized (n = 69) and normal control (n = 64) subjects where informed parental consent was obtained for follow-up participation in the family study. Three groups were formed: two clinical groups (with conduct disorder, CCD, n = 32; and without conduct disorder, CNCD, n = 37) and one normal control group (NC, n = 59). First and second degree biological relatives were assessed through interviews with the mother, father, and/or child to form best estimate diagnoses for all relatives where information was available. Relatives studied were divided into 5 groups: mothers (n = 128), fathers (n = 128), siblings 18 and older (n = 101), siblings under 18 (n = 151), and second degree relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents; n=l083). Significant Chi square results were obtained for fathers of the CCD group compared to the normal control group for substance abuse (p $<$ 0.030), antisocial personality disorder (p $<$ 0.004), and for assaultive attempt (p $<$ 0.021), but differed from the clinical control group only for assaultive attempts (p $<$ 0.057). Mothers of the CCD group had significantly more assaultive attempts (p $<$ 0.013) than the normal control group, but did not differ from the inpatient control group in this area. A stepwise logistic regression analysis, conducted to determine the family variables most predictive of conduct disorder, indicated that father's assaultive behavior was most predictive of inpatient conduct disorder when all significant variables were taken into account. Finally, positive results indicated implications for early detection of high risk children, for prevention, and for family intervention, since child treatment would necessitate treatment of a disturbed family unit. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Psychobiology|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Aebly, Mary Kay, "Psychopathology and family variables of relatives of children with conduct disorder: A family study" (1993). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9325918.



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