Oppositional defiant disorder with onset in preschool years: Longitudinal stability and pathways to other disorders

John V Lavigne*, Colleen J Cicchetti, Robert D. Gibbons, Helen Binns, Lene Larsen, Crystal Devito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the stability and change in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) with onset among preschool children in a pediatric sample. Method: A total of 510 children aged 2-5 years were enrolled initially in 1989-1990 (mean age 3.42 years); 280 participated in five waves of data collection over a period of 48 to 72 months (mean wave 5 age, 8.35 years). Test batteries varied by age, but they included the Child Behavior Checklist, developmental evaluation, Rochester Adaptive Behavior Inventory, and a play session (before age 7 years) and a structured interview (Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents, parent and child versions) at ages 7+ years. Consensus diagnoses were assigned by using best-estimate procedures. Results: Wave 1 single-diagnosis ODD showed a significant relationship with both single-diagnosis ODD and single-diagnosis attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at subsequent waves, but not with single-diagnosis anxiety or mood disorders. Single-diagnosis ODD at wave 1 was associated with later comorbidity of ODD/ADHD, ODD/anxiety, and ODD/mood disorders. Stability across waves 2 through 5 was moderate to high for comorbid ODD/anxiety and ODD/ADHD; low to moderate stability for single-diagnosis ODD and single-diagnosis mood disorder; and low for mood disorder, single-diagnosis ADHD, and single-diagnosis anxiety disorder. Conclusions: Preschool children with ODD are likely to continue to exhibit disorder, with increasing comorbidity with ADHD, anxiety, or mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001


  • Anxiety
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Depression
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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