The structure of childhood disruptive behaviors

Michelle M. Martel, Monica Gremillion, Bethan Roberts, Alexander von Eye, Joel T. Nigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) frequently co-occur. Comorbidity of these 2 childhood disruptive behavior domains has not been satisfactorily explained at either a structural or etiological level. The current study evaluated a bifactor model, which allows for a "g" factor in addition to distinct component factors, in relation to other models to improve understanding of the structural relationship between ADHD and ODD. Participants were 548 children (321 boys, 227 girls) between the ages of 6 years and 18 years who participated in a comprehensive diagnostic assessment incorporating parent and teacher ratings of symptoms. Of these 548 children, 153 children were diagnosed with ADHD (without ODD), 114 children were diagnosed with ADHD + ODD, 26 children were diagnosed with ODD (without ADHD), and 239 children were classified as non-ADHD/ODD comparison children (including subthreshold cases). ADHD symptoms were assessed via parent report on a diagnostic interview and via parent and teacher report on the ADHD Rating Scale. ODD symptoms were assessed via teacher report. A bifactor model of disruptive behavior, comprising a "g" factor and the specific factors of ADHD and ODD, exhibited best fit, compared to 1-factor, 2-factor, 3-factor, and 2nd-order factor models of disruptive behaviors. It is concluded that a bifactor model of childhood disruptive behaviors is superior to existing models and may help explain common patterns of comorbidity between ADHD and ODD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-826
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • ADHD
  • Bifactor model
  • Disruptive behavior
  • ODD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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