Background. DSM-IV specifies a hierarchal diagnostic structure such that an oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) diagnosis is applied only if criteria are not met for conduct disorder (CD). Genetic studies of ODD and CD support a combination of shared genetic and environmental influences but largely ignore the imposed diagnostic structure. Method. We examined whether ODD and CD share an underlying etiology while accounting for DSM-IV diagnostic specifications. Data from 1446 female twin pairs, aged 11-19 years, were fitted to two-stage models adhering to the DSM-IV diagnostic hierarchy. Results. The models suggested that DSM-IV ODD-CD covariation is attributed largely to shared genetic influences. Conclusions. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to examine genetic and environmental overlap among these disorders while maintaining a DSM-IV hierarchical structure. The findings reflect primarily shared genetic influences and specific (i.e. uncorrelated) shared/familial environmental effects on these DSM-IV-defined behaviors. These results have implications for how best to define CD and ODD for future genetically informed analyses.
- conduct disorder
- oppositional defiant disorder