To examine gender differences among children with disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) from an ethnically diverse school sample.
From 2,984 children, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, combined type (ADHD-C) (46 boys, 11 girls), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) (59 boys, 35 girls), and co-occurring ADHD-C/ODD (76 boys, 27 girls), diagnosed by teacher-rated DSM-IV symptoms, were compared with each other and with 254 controls on teacher ratings of symptoms, social functioning and Achenbach Teacher's Report Form scales.
Children with ADHD-C/ODD received the poorest ratings on all variables. In "pure" groups, children with ODD were rated as learning more, working harder, and being less inattentive than children with ADHD-C; only the ODD group showed more internalizing problems than controls. For ADHD-C and ODD groups, ratings of aggression and some individual symptoms were higher in boys than girls. Girls with ODD were rated as more appropriate and less inattentive, but unhappier and more socially impaired than boys with ODD. Overall, girls received higher peer dislike scores than boys.
Comorbidity and gender issues affect the correlates of DBDs, with learning problems higher in ADHD-C, internalizing problems associated only with ODD, and greatest impairment for ADHD-C/ODD groups. Despite having similar or less behavioral dysfunction, girls with DBDs may have more social problems than boys with DBDs.