Behavioral Treatment for Children With Conduct Problems and Callous-Unemotional Traits

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Brief Title

Behavioral Treatment for Children With Conduct Problems and Callous-Unemotional Traits

Official Title

Designing a Novel Behavioral Treatment Protocol for Children Characterized by Conduct Problems and Callous-unemotional Traits

Brief Summary

      The purpose of this study is to modify behavior therapy so that it is optimized for children
      with conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits by emphasizing reward components and
      de-emphasizing punishment components.

Detailed Description

      Several studies have demonstrated that standard behavioral treatments do not appear to be
      sufficient for children with conduct problems (CP) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits. Other
      research suggests that children with CPCU are less responsive to punishments as evaluated
      using controlled laboratory tasks. Based on these two sets of findings, it was hypothesized
      that behavioral treatment modified to emphasize reward and de-emphasize punishments would be
      advantageous when used to treat children with CPCU. This hypothesis was tested in a treatment
      development study that had three phases. During phase 1, which occurred in 2010, the
      intervention was planned and treatment procedures and manuals were developed. During phase 2,
      which occurred in 2011, a pilot study was conducted in which the intervention was tested in
      an iterative manner in a group of 12 children with conduct problems and callous-unemotional
      traits. In phase 3, a larger trial was conducted using a cross over design, with one-half of
      participants getting standard behavioral treatment for four weeks followed by modified
      behavioral treatment for four weeks and remaining participants receiving treatments in the
      reverse order.Treatments were evaluated using parent ratings, counselor ratings, and
      frequency counts of behavior during treatments.

Study Type


Primary Outcome

Conduct Problems

Secondary Outcome

 IOWA Inattentive/Overactive Scale - Counselor


Conduct Disorder


Reward-Emphasized Treatment

Study Arms / Comparison Groups

 Reward-Emphasized treatment
Description:  This treatment consisted of behavior therapy modified to match the unique learning styles of children with CPCU. This was accomplished by emphasizing rewards and de-emphasizing punishments. This treatment was administered using a summer treatment program.


* Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by National Clinical Trials Identifier (NCT ID) in Medline.

Recruitment Information

Recruitment Status


Estimated Enrollment


Start Date

January 2012

Completion Date

August 2012

Primary Completion Date

August 2012

Eligibility Criteria

        Inclusion Criteria:

          -  Clinical diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder

          -  Ages 7 to 12 years old

          -  t-score of 65 or above on CU scale of Antisocial Process Screening Device as rated by
             parents or teacher

          -  at least parent/caregiver fluent in English

          -  able to participate in vigorous outdoor activities

          -  parent/caregiver agreement to keep psychoactive medication treatment constant
             throughout the study

        Exclusion Criteria:

          -  Full scale intelligence quotient (IQ) of less than 75

          -  medical conditions that contra-indicate participation in treatment

          -  current or past clinical diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia
             or other psychotic disorders, sexual disorder, organic mental disorder, or eating

          -  lack of functional impairment

          -  current or past seizures or other neurological disorders




7 Years - 12 Years

Accepts Healthy Volunteers



Daniel A Waschbusch, Ph.D., , 

Location Countries

United States

Location Countries

United States

Administrative Informations



Organization ID


Secondary IDs


Responsible Party


Study Sponsor

Florida International University


 National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Study Sponsor

Daniel A Waschbusch, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Florida International University

Verification Date

December 2015