Does the Conners' Continuous Performance Test aid in ADHD diagnosis?

R A McGee, S E Clark, D K Symons
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2000, 28 (5): 415-24
The performance of clinic-referred children aged 6-11 (N = 100) was examined using the Conners' Continuous Performance Test (CPT) and measures of auditory attention (Auditory Continuous Performance Test; ACPT), phonological awareness, visual processing speed, and visual-motor competence. The Conners' CPT overall index was unrelated to measures of visual processing speed or visual-motor competence. Although the Conners' CPT converged with the ACPT, the latter demonstrated age and order effects. Significant variance in Conners' CPT parameters was predicted by phonological awareness measures, suggesting that Reading Disordered (RD) children could be "false positives" on the Conners' CPT. The Conners' CPT overall index, phonological awareness, and visual-motor measures were submitted to a 2 x 2 MANCOVA (ADHD vs. RD, covarying for age and socioeconomic status): a main effect for RD status was found. Children with ADHD did not have higher Conners' CPT scores than did clinical controls; however, children with Reading Disorders did. Phonological measures distinguished RD children from ADHD children and other clinical controls. ADHD children who failed the Conners' CPT were rated by teachers as more hyperactive. Despite the strengths of the Conners' CPT, its utility for differential diagnosis of ADHD is questioned.


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