OBJECTIVE: This study examined the reliability of symptom reporting by
community children of elementary school age and their parents on a version
of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-Revised (DISC- R).
METHOD: A sample of 109 children aged 6-11 years from an ongoing
epidemiologic study were recruited for retest DISC-R interviews after
completion of the study protocol. Retest interviews took place 7-18 days
after the first interview and were conducted by interviewers who had no
prior information about the subjects. Test-retest reliability for five
common childhood psychiatric diagnoses was evaluated with the kappa
statistic; the intraclass correlation coefficient was used to evaluate
test-retest reliability of symptom scales. RESULTS: The reliability of the
parents' reports on the DISC-R was good to excellent for attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder and separation anxiety disorder; it was fair for
overanxious disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder.
The children reported many fewer symptoms than the parents except for
separation anxiety disorder; reliability was fair for separation anxiety
disorder and poor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The
children were particularly unreliable in reporting about time factors, such
as duration and onset of symptoms. When symptoms were considered without
duration and onset, children's reports reached fair reliability for
separation anxiety disorder, overanxious disorder, and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder but remained poor for oppositional defiant disorder.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that highly structured diagnostic
interviews such as the DISC-R may not be appropriate for use with younger
children of elementary school age in community-based studies.