What are the Costs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

It’s common for a child to not clean their room after being instructed to, but this can usually be attributed to laziness, procrastination, or forgetfulness. What’s more rare, but significantly more concerning, is a child who, when instructed to do a chore, boldly and defiantly refuses. When this behavior becomes a pattern, it can be diagnosed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD),  a disorder that often leads to other ones and causes significant stress for parents and guardians of children with it. A surprising paucity of research exists to help them, as pointed out recently by one of our SFL professors.

Not as widely-known as ADHD or other childhood disorders, ODD  affects anywhere from two to sixteen percent of American children. The American Psychiatric Association defines ODD as a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/deviant behavior and vindictiveness that is severe enough to impair the child’s functioning for at least six months. If it goes untreated in the critical formative years, it often leads to more disorders, many of which are even more harmful and more expensive than ODD. Also, untreated ODD causes significant levels of stress for parents and guardians of children with the disorder, and some studies estimate that up to ninety percent of medical visits are the product of stress. Therefore, it’s in the medical community’s best interest to conduct this research in a timely manner.

The Study

Crane, Russ

D. Russell Crane, a professor in the Family Life department at BYU, recently conducted a study with colleagues on the research associated with this disorder. The study, published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, reviewed extant literature on the treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, with a specific focus on cost analyses.

ODD, like most psychiatric disorders, can get very expensive. Personal bills can be overwhelming, but the impact on society is even more palpable. One study estimated that for each successful behavioral intervention with a high-risk youth, $2 million dollars could be saved. Obviously, a fair amount of research has been done on costs and benefits of treating behavioral disorders in general, but Dr. Crane’s analysis of the literature “returned only one article that reported public costs specifically associated with ODD.”

The Impact

“Little research has been done on the cost-effectiveness of ODD-specific treatment,” Dr. Crane concludes. He adds that while some studies show that the treatment of ODD is much less expensive than the treatment of the more general Conduct Disorder and family therapy is the most cost effective approach, “there [still] exists a need to include the benefits beyond just decreased symptoms, such as improving…quality of life for significant others.” Dr. Crane’s study is step in the direction of decreasing those struggles over bedroom cleaning, so that those children and families affected by ODD can have happier lives.

Do you or someone you know suffer from ODD? How has it impacted them?


4 thoughts on “What are the Costs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

  1. I believe that I had ODD as a child, but it wasn’t even on the radar at the time. I was just a little trouble maker. My home environment might have been the catalyst to the severity of my ODD. The aftermath was horrid and I led a very unsafe life for many years. My father in heaven saw fit to pull me out of the hell I was living, but I had no idea why I had the troubles that I had. I still can’t quite figure out the whole thing, but I would like to, because my 10 year old daughter has all the signs of ODD. I would love to help her before it gets too bad.

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