Research Unit of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Odense, Mental Health Services in the Region of Southern Denmark, Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, J. B. Winsløwsvej 16, 5000, Odense C, Denmark. [Email]
The symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or oppositionality, seem to constitute a three-dimensional structure of angry/irritable, vindictiveness and argumentative behavior dimensions. Also, subjects with oppositionality are characterized by different comorbidity and longitudinal trajectories, suggesting that they could be divided into subtypes. This study is the first to examine the dimensions and subtypes of oppositionality in Nordic children. Study participants included 3435 children aged 7-10 years from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Information was collected using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) online version. A three-factor ODD model was identified. The angry/irritable dimension was associated with emotional problems and disorders, fewer social skills and fewer personal positive attributes. The argumentative behavior dimension was associated with hyperactivity/conduct problems, reduced social skills and positive attributes. The vindictiveness dimension was associated with externalizing, internalizing and prosocial problems. Four ODD subtypes were identified. The subtypes with many or mainly angry/irritable symptoms were characterized by comorbid psychopathology, increased functional impairment and psychosocial problems. Children with ODD had fewer positive attributes, more friendship/school problems and higher functional impairment than children with emotional disorders and control group children. Oppositionality consists of three dimensions differently associated with comorbidity and psychosocial characteristics, and the same pattern is seen for the four ODD subtypes identified in this study. Children with ODD experience more adversities and functional impairment than children with emotional disorders. Our results indicate that treatment of children with ODD would improve from extended knowledge on individual ODD dimensions and subtypes and the related child psychosocial characteristics.