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Diagnostic and measurement issues in the assessment of pediatric bipolar disorder: Implications for understanding mood disorder across the life cycle

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 December 2006

The goal of this paper is to review assessment research of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents. The review addresses numerous themes: the benefits and costs of involving clinical judgment in the diagnostic process, particularly with regard to diagnosis and mood severity ratings; the validity of parent, teacher, and youth self-report of manic symptoms; how much cross-situational consistency is typically shown in mood and behavior; the extent to which a parent's mental health status influences their report of child behavior; how different measures compare in terms of detecting bipolar disorder, the challenges in comparing the performance of measures across research groups, and the leading candidates for research or clinical use; evidence-based strategies for interpreting measures as diagnostic aids; how test performance changes when a test is used in a new setting and what implications this has for research samples as well as clinical practice; the role of family history of mood disorder within an assessment framework; and the implications of assessment research for the understanding of phenomenology of bipolar disorder from a developmental framework.We thank the families who participated in this program of research. This work was supported in part by NIMH R01 MH066647, as well as a Center Grant from the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eric Youngstrom, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, CB 3270, Davie Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
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