Clinical Utility of the Limited Prosocial Emotions Specifier in the Childhood–Onset Subtype of Conduct Disorder
Déry M, *Bégin V, Toupin J, Temcheff CE. (2019). Clinical Utility of the Limited Prosocial Emotions Specifier in the Childhood–Onset Subtype of Conduct Disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 64(12): 838-845.
Objective: Clinicians may specify the diagnosis of conduct disorder (CD) as “with limited prosocial emotions” (LPE). This specifier is thought to identify youths with particularly severe and stable symptomatology. However, few studies have examined the clinical usefulness of the LPE specifier among children with childhood-onset CD. The current study examines whether the LPE specifier distinguishes children with particularly severe and persistent symptoms among those with childhood-onset CD. The study also aims to test whether the LPE specifier aids in identifying children with subclinical CD whose conduct problems are at risk of increasing. Method: Two hundred sixty-four children showing at least one CD symptom before age 10 were divided based on the presence of CD and the specifier. Children with and without the specifier were compared on number of CD symptoms (assessed at study inception) and trajectory of conduct problems (assessed over 4 years). The analyses controlled for oppositional defiant and attention deficit hyperactivity symptomatology. Results: Compared with children with CD but without LPE, children with CD and the LPE specifier did not differ on likelihood of endorsing most symptoms nor on total numbers of symptoms. Moreover, they did not show a more stable pattern of conduct problems across the 4 years. Children with subclinical CD with and without the LPE specifier were also similar in terms of their symptoms, severity, and evolution of their problems. Conclusions: Among youths with childhood-onset CD, the specifier appears to offer limited value in identifying those with particularly severe and stable CD symptomatology.