Observational assessment of preschool disruptive behavior, part II: Validity of the disruptive behavior diagnostic observation schedule (DB-DOS)

Lauren S. Wakschlag*, Margaret J. Briggs-Gowan, Carri Hill, Barbara Danis, Bennett L. Leventhal, Kate Keenan, Helen L. Egger, Domenic Cicchetti, James Burns, Alice S. Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the validity of the Disruptive Behavior Diagnostic Observation Schedule (DB-DOS), a new observational method for assessing preschool disruptive behavior. Method: A total of 327 behaviorally heterogeneous preschoolers from low-income environments comprised the validation sample. Parent and teacher reports were used to identify children with clinically significant disruptive behavior. The DB-DOS assessed observed disruptive behavior in two domains, problems in Behavioral Regulation and Anger Modulation, across three interactional contexts: Examiner Engaged, Examiner Busy, and Parent. Convergent and divergent validity of the DB-DOS were tested in relation to parent and teacher reports and independently observed behavior. Clinical validity was tested in terms of criterion and incremental validity of the DB-DOS for discriminating disruptive behavior status and impairment, concurrently and longitudinally. Results: DB-DOS scores were significantly associated with reported and independently observed behavior in a theoretically meaningful fashion. Scores from both DB-DOS domains and each of the three DB-DOS contexts contributed uniquely to discrimination of disruptive behavior status, concurrently and predictively. Observed behavior on the DB-DOS also contributed incrementally to prediction of impairment over time, beyond variance explained by meeting DSM-IV disruptive behavior disorder symptom criteria based on parent/teacher report. Conclusions: The multidomain, multicontext approach of the DB-DOS is a valid method for direct assessment of preschool disruptive behavior. This approach shows promise for enhancing accurate identification of clinically significant disruptive behavior in young children and for characterizing subtypes in a manner that can directly inform etiological and intervention research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-641
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Diagnostic observation
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Preschool behavior problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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