Empirically defined symptom scales using the DISC 2.3

Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Patrick E. Shrout, Glorisa Canino, Héctor R. Bird, Peter Jensen, Mina Dulcan, Mary Schwab-Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Empirically defined scales of depressive, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder, and conduct symptoms from the lay-administered National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC), version 2.3, and evidence of their reliability and validity, are presented. The scales were developed using factor analyses of data obtained from an epidemiologic survey of over 1,200 children drawn from four sites across the U.S. and Puerto Rico (the NIMH Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders, or MECA Study). Their psychometric properties were tested in a subsample of children reinterviewed by clinicians. The findings support the use of these continuous measures. The scales are strongly related to the diagnostic categories and show good test-retest reliability. The scales can be used to characterize severity in children with diagnoses and to describe problems and symptoms in children without diagnoses. Because these scales can measure gradations in symptomatology, they may be more useful than categorical measures. Like categorical measures, the scales based on the DISC are greatly influenced by the informant, whether child or parent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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