PeerJ 2014 15;2:e487. Epub 2014 Jul 15.
Ontario Institutes for Studies in Education, University of Toronto , Toronto, ON , Canada ; Hospital for Sick Children , Toronto, ON , Canada.
Children with disruptive behavior disorders experience substantial social challenges; however, the factors that account for (i.e., mediate), or influence (i.e., moderate), peer problems are not well understood. This study tested whether symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder were associated with peer impairment and whether prosocial skills mediated or moderated these associations. Teacher ratings were gathered for 149 children (Mage = 9.09, SD = 1.71, 26% female) referred for behavioral concerns to an urban child psychiatry clinic. Path-analytic linear regressions testing mediation and moderation effects showed that prosocial skills significantly moderated the negative effects of symptoms of Conduct Disorder on peer impairment. Children showed less peer impairment only when they had relatively few conduct symptoms and high prosocial skills. Measurement of prosocial skills, in addition to conduct problems, may best capture factors which contribute to peer problems of children with disruptive behaviors.