Demons or diamonds: a study to ascertain health professionals' attitudes toward children with conduct disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2004 Oct-Dec;17(4):151-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6171.2004.tb00012.x.


Problem: In the United Kingdom, 10% of children referred to child psychiatry services are diagnosed with a conduct disorder. Of these, 45% may grow up to be psychopaths or have personality disorders. Attitudes of professionals to both these diagnoses are shown to be negative.

Methods: A Likert-scale questionnaire and semistructured interview completed by a purposive sample of doctors, nurses, psychologists, and therapists (N=32) in an outpatient child and adolescent mental health department.

Findings: Positive regard is maintained toward these children despite negative expectations for prognosis and treatment. Negative attitudes were attributed to lack of resources, medically led services with research-based practice agendas, and ethical issues of utilitarianism.

Conclusions: If children with conduct disorder continue to be seen as "demons," as untreatable and resource intensive, they will continue to be ignored by the agencies who purport to help them. Search terms: Attitudes, conduct disorders, personality disorder

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires