Cognitive Distortions and Psychiatric Diagnosis in Dually Diagnosed Adolescents

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics and patterns of cognitive distortions among psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents.

Method

Measures of cognitive distortions, depression, and hopelessness were administered to 135 adolescents on two psychiatric inpatient units. Subjects were grouped according to their Axis I diagnoses: depression only, conduct disorder only, depression and substance abuse, conduct disorder and substance abuse, all three diagnoses, and none of the three diagnoses.

Results

Multivariate analyses of covariance indicated that differently diagnosed adolescents exhibited varying levels of cognitive distorting as measured by the Children's Negative Cognitive Errors Questionnaire (CNCEQ). In particular, adolescents with multiple Axis I diagnoses tended to score highest. On all but one of four CNCEQ subscales, the depression only group evidenced as much cognitive distortion as did the group with multiple diagnoses. However, each diagnostic grouping demonstrated its own somewhat distinct distortions based on CNCEQ subscales.

Conclusions

Findings are discussed in terms of the utility of differentiating cognitive styles for subsequent treatment. It is suggested that disparate cognitive interventions could be matched with adolescents displaying particular problems.

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