Conduct disorder: long-term outcomes and intervention effectiveness

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1994 Oct;33(8):1069-78. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199410000-00001.


Objective: To review the literature on conduct disorder in two areas: long-term outcome and the effects of interventions.

Method: The sources of the articles for review were computer searches, but the articles were selected for this review to illustrate key findings in the long-term outcome area and to review critically four intervention strategies to prevent or treat conduct disorder, namely, parent- and family-targeted programs, social-cognitive programs, peer and school-based programs, and community programs.

Results: Conduct problems in childhood predict the same increased rates of psychiatric disorder overall in men and women but the patterns are different: for externalizing disorders, the prediction is stronger in men and for internalizing disorders, the prediction is stronger in women. In the intervention domain, the literature provides limited evidence of the effectiveness of either primary or secondary prevention.

Conclusions: Prospective studies of community samples of children provide the best opportunity to understand more thoroughly the adult outcomes of conduct disorder. Because of the heavy burden of suffering of conduct disorder, and the limited effectiveness of clinical interventions, there is a compelling argument in favor of an increased emphasis on primary prevention efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Family Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Socioenvironmental Therapy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome