Emerging research suggests clinicians may benefit from conflicting reports of a child’s behavior.

A variety of opinion is often the norm as parents, teachers and other children report from different perspectives. Researchers believe a better understanding of the source and nature of these disagreements may provide important information that could improve treatment and outcomes.

A group of articles in the current issue of Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, explores this challenging clinical dilemma.

Guest editors suggest that clinicians view the disagreements as “additional information” rather than a problem and to use the information to help determine the credibility of each informant’s report.

“This has implications for treatment engagement, adherence, and ultimately outcomes,” they conclude.

In the issue, two articles take a close look at the implications of disagreements between parents and teachers: looking at behaviors that occur at home only, at school only, or in both settings among a community-based sample.

An additional paper, entitled “Diagnostic Implications of Informant Disagreement for Manic Symptoms,” draws on patients seen at an outpatient clinic for symptoms of mania observed either only by a parent or by both parent and teacher.

Conflicting reports by parents and offspring is the focus of three articles, with the samples derived from families seeking services from an outpatient mental health clinic.

Eric Youngstrom, Ph.D., and colleagues consider the question of who has greater credibility, parent or child, in the article “Informants Are Not All Equal: Predictors and Correlates of Clinician Judgments About Caregiver and Youth Credibility.”

Another paper evaluates whether discrepancies in reporting influence clinicians’ ratings of parent and child credibility, and a complementary paper assesses whether the severity of a manic disorder affects the differences in how caregivers and teens describe the symptoms.

“Clinicians have long known that parents and children have very different perceptions about how a child is behaving or what they are feeling,” said Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., editor-in-chief of Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

“These studies help to clarify this dilemma and help us improve the diagnosis and advance our understanding and treatment of children with psychiatric disorders.”

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc