Child maltreatment, other trauma exposure, and posttraumatic symptomatology among children with oppositional defiant and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.
Consecutive child psychiatric outpatient admissions with disruptive behavior or adjustment disorders were assessed by validated instruments for trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and other psychopathology. Four reliably diagnosed groups were defined in a retrospective case-control design: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), comorbid ADHD-ODD, and adjustment disorder controls. ODD and (although to a lesser extent) ADHD were associated with a history of physical or sexual maltreatment. PTSD symptoms were most severe if (a) ADHD and maltreatment co-occurred or (b) ODD and accident/illness trauma co-occurred. The association between ODD and PTSD Criterion D (hyperarousal/hypervigilance) symptoms remained after controlling for overlapping symptoms, but the association of ADHD with PTSD symptoms was largely due to an overlapping symptom. These findings suggest that screening for maltreatment, other trauma, and PTSD symptoms may enhance prevention, treatment, and research concerning childhood disruptive behavior disorders.