Neurobiological stress responses predict aggression in boys with oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder: a 1-year follow-up intervention study.

Research paper by Jantiene J Schoorl, Sophie S van Rijn, Minet M de Wied, Stephanie H M SH van Goozen, Hanna H Swaab

Indexed on: 10 Feb '17Published on: 10 Feb '17Published in: European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry


To improve outcome for children with antisocial and aggressive behavior, it is important to know which individual characteristics contribute to reductions in problem behavior. The predictive value of a parent training (Parent Management Training Oregon; PMTO), parenting practices (monitoring, discipline, and punishment), and child neurobiological function (heart rate, cortisol) on the course of aggression was investigated. 64 boys with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder (8-12 years) participated; parents of 22 boys took part in PMTO. All data were collected before the start of the PMTO, and aggression ratings were collected three times, before PMTO, and at 6 and 12 month follow-up. Parent training predicted a decline in aggression at 6 and 12 months. Child neurobiological variables, i.e., higher cortisol stress reactivity and better cortisol recovery, also predicted a decline in aggression at 6 and 12 months. Heart rate and parenting practices were not related to the course of aggression. These results indicate that child neurobiological factors can predict persistence or reduction of aggression in boys with ODD/CD, and have unique prognostic value on top of the parent training effects.