Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Second Advisor

Diana Formoso

Third Advisor

Barry Nierenberg


attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, DSM-5, mental health, stress, youth


Many children and adolescents in the United States experience externalizing behavior problems identified as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder. These behavior problems cause disruptions in the youth’s socioemotional functioning and academic success. The assignment of a diagnosis from the DSM-5 is often the first step in treatment planning, because many clinics and third-party payers require a diagnosis for authorization of treatment payment. However, research has repeatedly revealed that informants differ in the information they provide regarding youth mental health. While studies have separately examined the association of youth characteristics, parent characteristics, and family characteristics and informant agreement, there is a dearth of research examining the association between these variables in mother-father agreement of ethnically diverse youth.

The current study addresses this gap in a sample of 88 mother-father dyads in a clinic sample of youth evaluated for the presence of externalizing behavior problems. Pearson correlations and paired t-tests were run to examine associations and discrepancies, respectively, between mother and father reports of youth inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, defiance/aggression, and learning problems. Regression analyses were run to examine the impact of child age, gender, symptom severity, ethnicity, family income, and parent mental health (i.e., depressive symptoms, parenting stress) on mother-father reporting discrepancies. Overall associations between mother and father reports of youth behavior problems were positively correlated, and moderate to large in magnitude. Mother’s depression scores, mother and father parenting stress scores, and child’s symptom severity were significant predictors in some regression analyses. Child age, child ethnicity, father’s depression scores, and family income were not significant predictors in the regression analyses. Results of this research contribute to the small literature base of discrepancies in parent reports in ethnically diverse youth. It further expands upon the minimal research regarding paternal caregivers. Further, it highlights the need for mental health screening of youth’s parents during child psychological assessment to identify situations in which both parent reports may be necessary for appropriate assessment of youth mental health.

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