Validity of reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder in adolescence
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2019, 1-12. 10.1007/s00787-019-01456-9
Although reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) are acknowledged as valid disorders in young children, controversy remains regarding their validity in adolescence. An unresolved question is whether symptoms of RAD and DSED are better conceptualized as other psychiatric disorders at this age. All adolescents (N = 381; 67% consent; 12–20 years old) living in residential youth care in Norway were interviewed to determine the symptoms and diagnosis of RAD/DSED and other common psychiatric disorders using the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA). The construct validity of RAD and DSED, including structural and discriminant validity, was investigated using confirmatory factor analysis and latent profile analysis. Two-factor models distinguishing between symptoms of RAD and DSED and differentiating these symptoms from the symptoms of other psychiatric disorders revealed better fit than one-factor models. Symptoms of RAD and DSED defined two distinct latent groups in a profile analysis. The prevalence of RAD was 9% (95% CI 6–11%), and the prevalence of DSED was 8% (95% CI 5–11%). RAD and DSED are two distinct latent factors not accounted for by other common psychiatric disorders in adolescence. RAD and DSED are not uncommon among adolescents in residential youth care and therefore warrant easy access to qualified health care and prevention in high-risk groups.