Criterion validity of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version 2.3 (DISC-2.3)

Mary E. Schwab-Stone, David Shaffer, Mina K. Dulcan, Peter S. Jensen, Prudence Fisher, Hector R. Bird, Sherryl H. Goodman, Benjamin B. Lahey, Judith H. Lichtman, Glorisa Canino, Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Donald S. Rae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

301 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the criterion validity of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) Version 2.3 in the NIMH Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) Study, using a design that permitted several comparisons of DISC-generated diagnoses with diagnoses based on clinician symptom ratings. Method: Two hundred forty- seven youths were selected from the 1,285 parent-youth pairs that constituted the four-site MECA sample. Subjects who screened positive for any of the five diagnostic areas under investigation in the validity study (attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, depressive disorder, and the major anxiety disorders) were recruited, as well as a comparable number of screen negatives. Clinicians reinterviewed separately both the youth and the primary caregiver using the DISC followed by a clinical-style interview, and then they rated the presence of symptoms and impairment. Computer algorithms combined this information into diagnoses using comparable rules for both DISC and clinical rating diagnoses. Results: in general, the DiSC showed moderate to good validity across a number of diagnoses. Conclusions: Results suggest some specific diagnostic areas in which further revision of the DISC is warranted. Three main sources of variability in DISC-clinician diagnostic agreement were evident over and above that due to the instrument itself, including (1) the informant used, (2) the algorithm applied in synthesizing symptom reports, and (3) the design of the validity comparison.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-888
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1996


  • Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children
  • assessment
  • diagnosis
  • epidemiology
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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