We examined two systems of assessing family interactions that are in common usage: a home based observation of free parent-child interaction and a clinic based observation of a structured mother-child problem solving discussion. Participants were 18 depressed, 27 conduct disordered and 16 comparison children and their mothers. Results indicated that: 1) these observations may yield very different data about child, and to a lesser extent, parent behavior, 2) parental affect in the clinic was related to their level of aversive behaviour in the home, 3) levels of both aversive and positive behavior for children and their mothers were correlated within each setting, 4) accuracy of diagnostic classifications made on the basis of the observational data were highest for comparison and conduct disordered children, but lowest for depressed children observed in the clinic, and 5) the inclusion of data on mothers' behavior increased classification accuracy for conduct disordered children only.
- conduct disorder
- family interaction