Category: ADHD - Child
Introduction: Research indicates that a subset of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) experience impairing rates of emotion dsyregulation. In particular, children with ADHD demonstrate significantly more anger-related problems (i.e., aggression, anger, defiance, oppositional behavior, etc.) relative to unaffected children. Children with ADHD also exhibit higher rates of comorbid internalizing and externalizing disorders, both of which are correlated with emotion dysregulation. High rates of comorbidity in conjunction with disinhibition and impulsivity inherent in ADHD may put children with ADHD at an elevated risk for anger dysregulation. The current study will explore the role of comorbidity in predicting anger-related emotion regulation deficits among children with ADHD. Anger disinhibition, dysregulated anger expression, and maladaptive coping with anger will be examined. Research suggests that children with ADHD exhibit a positive illusory bias and often overestimate their emotional competence. Thus, parent and child report of anger-related emotion regulation deficits will be explored.
Methods. 120 children ages 7-12 with ADHD completed the study. Parents were administered the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children to assess for both ADHD and comorbidity status. Parents and children each independently completed the Child Anger Management Scales (Zeman et al., 2001).
Results. ANCOVA’s were run to examine the effects of comorbidity on parent and child report of anger regulation deficits while controlling for gender, age, and ADHD medication. The bonferroni correction was used to control for multiple comparisons. There was a significant effect of comorbid ODD status on parent report of anger inhibition, F(1, 113)=10.36, p=.002, η2=.08. There was a significant effect of comorbid ODD status (F(1, 113)= 14.03, p < .001, η2=.11) and comorbid internalizing disorder status(F(1, 113)=7.65, p=.007, η2=.06) on parent report of dysregulated emotional expression of anger. There was a significant effect of comorbid ODD status on parent report of maladaptive coping with anger, F(1,113)= 18.22, p < .001, η2=.14. No significant findings emerged for child report.
Discussion. Among children with ADHD, the presence of a comorbid disorder is linked to parent report of greater anger-related emotion regulation deficits. Children with comorbid ODD experienced deficits in all anger-related variables explored. Interestingly, parents of children with a comorbid internalizing disorder reported dysregulated expression of anger, but not greater anger inhibition or maladaptive coping. Future research should examine mechanisms related to differences observed between children with ADHD and comorbid internalizing versus externalizing disorders.
Kirsten Leaberry– Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
Nicholas Fogleman– University of Louisville
Kelly Slaughter– University of Louisville
Danielle Walerius– University of Louisville
Paul Rosen– University of Louisville
Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student
University of Louisville