Application of the Impulsive Aggression Diary in Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2019 Oct;29(8):599-607. doi: 10.1089/cap.2018.0089. Epub 2019 Jul 25.


Objective: Impulsive aggression (IA) is a maladaptive form of aggressive behavior that is an associated feature of neuropsychiatric disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As one of the most common forms of aggressive behavior, IA is a serious clinical concern. Recognition, monitoring, and management of IA symptoms are complicated by the lack of IA-specific psychometric instruments and evidence-based treatments. A recently developed electronic observer-reported outcome instrument has been validated in children for monitoring the frequency of 15 IA-related behaviors in the context of ADHD. This study seeks to first determine if the behaviors included in the pediatric IA diary are applicable to adolescents with ADHD, and second, compare the reliability of adolescent versus parent reporters. Methods: We evaluated the utility of the pediatric IA diary through concept elicitation and cognitive interviews with 17 pairs of parents and adolescents (aged 13-17 years) with IA and ADHD, supplemented with 15 new behaviors potentially applicable to adolescents. Results: The behaviors most frequently reported by adolescents included arguing (93.8%), raising their voice/shouting/yelling (93.8%), hitting others (87.5%), slamming (87.5%), pushing/shoving (81.3%), breaking (75.0%), fighting (75.0%), throwing (75.0%), and cursing (68.8%). The behaviors most commonly reported by parents included raising their voice/shouting/yelling (94.1%), arguing (88.2%), being disrespectful/mean/rude (88.2%), slamming (88.2%), throwing (88.2%), cursing (82.4%), hitting others (82.4%), pushing/shoving (82.4%), breaking (76.5%), name-calling (76.5%), and threatening (70.6%). Of all commonly reported behaviors, only being "disrespectful/mean/rude" and "breaking" are not part of the pediatric IA diary, likely due to the imprecision of these terms. No significant usability issues were found for the IA diary device. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the 15-item pediatric IA diary should be applicable to adolescent populations to appropriately characterize IA behaviors in individuals with ADHD. Furthermore, this study indicated that parents may be more reliable reporters of IA behavior than adolescents.

Keywords: ADHD; assessment tool; impulsive aggression; maladaptive aggression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Problem Behavior / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results