Parent agreement on ratings of children's attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and broadband externalizing behaviors

Joshua M. Langberg, Jeffery N. Epstein, John O. Simon, Richard E.A. Loren, L. Eugene Arnold, Lily Hechtman, Stephen P. Hinshaw, Betsy Hoza, Peter S. Jensen, William E. Pelham, James M. Swanson, Timothy Wigal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Mothers and fathers often disagree in their ratings of child behavior, as evidenced clinically and as supported by a substantial literature examining parental agreement on broadband rating scales. The present study examined mother-father agreement on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-based symptom-specific ratings of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as compared to agreement on broadband ratings of externalizing behavior. Based on mother and father ratings of 324 children who participated in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA), parental agreement was computed and patterns of disagreement examined. Mother-father ratings were significantly correlated; however, a clear pattern of higher ratings by mothers was present. Agreement on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom-specific ratings was significantly lower than that for broadband externalizing behaviors and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms. Of several moderator variables tested, parental stress was the only one that predicted the discrepancy in ratings. Disagreement between parents is clinically significant and may pose complications to the diagnostic process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Assessment
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Informant agreement
  • Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With ADHD (MTA)
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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