Informativeness of Structured Diagnostic Interviews in the Identification of Tourette's Disorder in Referred Youth

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Although specialized programs have greatly advanced the treatment of youth with Tourette's disorder (TD), not all children with TD reach such programs, raising questions as to whether TD is adequately identified outside specialized settings. There is thus a need for evidence that cases identified in the nonspecialty setting are "true cases." Because structured diagnostic interview methodology can reduce errors of omission, this approach can facilitate the identification of TD in referred youth outside specialized programs. Similarities between cases ascertained in specialty and nonspecialty settings would suggest that those identified in the nonspecialty setting were indeed "true cases." Comparisons were made between youth with TD ascertained through a specialized TD program who had both a structured diagnostic interview-derived diagnosis of TD plus an expert evaluation of TD (N = 103), with youth ascertained through a non-TD specialized pediatric psychopharmacology program who had a structured diagnostic interview-derived diagnosis of TD (N = 92). Irrespective of ascertainment source, children with structured interview-derived diagnosis of TD shared similar correlates in terms of tic severity, mean age of onset and duration of tics, as well as patterns of comorbidity well known to be associated with TD in clinical samples. Children meeting diagnostic criteria for TD on structured diagnostic interviews share similarities and patterns of clinical correlates, irrespective of ascertainment through a specialized TD or non-TD specialized clinic. These findings support the usefulness of structured diagnostic interview methodology as a diagnostic aid for the identification of TD in non-TD specialized settings and facilitate delineation of patterns of comorbidity.

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