Relation of Age of Onset to the Type and Severity of Child and Adolescent Conduct Problems

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Aug;27(4):247-60. doi: 10.1023/a:1022661224769.


In a cross-sectional household sample of 9-through 17-year-old youths from 4 U.S. communities, youths with earlier ages of onset of conduct problems engaged in more conduct problems than youths with later ages of onset when current age and gender were controlled. Specifically, youths with earlier ages of onset were more likely to engage in several types of physical aggression, frequent lying, theft, and vandalism and were less likely to engage in only truancy. There also was an inverse relation between age of onset and level of functional impairment, mental health service use, and meeting diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. Within the limits of cross-sectional data, these results support the hypothesis that key aspects of the heterogeneity of conduct problems among youths are related to the age of onset of conduct problems.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Age Factors
  • Aggression
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index