The purpose of this study was to examine whether callous-unemotional (CU) traits moderated the effects of intensive behavior therapy in elementary school-age children with varying levels of conduct problems (CP). Both treatment response (magnitude of change between pre- and posttreatment) and treatment outcomes (likelihood of normalization from treatment) were examined. Participants were 67 children (n = 49 boys, Mage = 9.6 years) with varying levels of CP and CU who participated in an intensive 8-week summer treatment program (STP) in which behavior therapy was delivered to children in recreational and classroom settings and to parents via weekly parent training sessions. Effects of treatment were measured using parent and teacher ratings of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), callous behavior, and impairment. Results showed that CU moderated treatment effects for CD and callous behavior but not ODD or impairment. The moderating effects showed some evidence that participants with high CP and high CU before treatment had better treatment responses (larger change between pre- and posttreatment) but worse treatment outcomes (lower likelihood of normalization after treatment). These results suggest that intensive treatment, such as the STP, may be necessary but not sufficient for children with CP and CU traits.
Effects of intensive behavioral treatment for children with varying levels of conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits
Bansal, P. S., Waschbusch, D. A., Haas, S. M., Babinski, D. E., King, S., Andrade, B. F., & Willoughby, M. T. (2019). Effects of intensive behavioral treatment for children with varying levels of conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits. Behavior Therapy, 50(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2018.03.003