Volume 55, Issue 7 p. 758-768
Original Article

Development of the ‘Extreme Demand Avoidance Questionnaire’ (EDA-Q): preliminary observations on a trait measure for Pathological Demand Avoidance

Elizabeth O'Nions

Corresponding Author

Elizabeth O'Nions

MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK

Correspondence

Elizabeth O'Nions, MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Denmark Hill, London, SE5 8AF, UK; Email: [email protected]

Search for more papers by this author
Phil Christie

Phil Christie

The Elizabeth Newson Centre, Sutherland House Children's Services (NORSACA), Nottinghamshire, UK

Search for more papers by this author
Judith Gould

Judith Gould

The NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism, Bromley, Kent, UK

Search for more papers by this author
Essi Viding

Essi Viding

Developmental Risk & Resilience Unit, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Clinical, Educational, and Health Psychology Research Department, University College London, London, UK

Search for more papers by this author
Francesca Happé

Francesca Happé

MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 07 October 2013
Citations: 35
Conflict of interest: No conflicts declared.

Abstract

Background

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a term increasingly used in the United Kingdom to describe children who obsessively resist everyday demands, going to extreme lengths to avoid these. There is debate about its relationship with both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Unlike ASD, children with PDA are said to use socially manipulative avoidance strategies; and unlike ODD, they resort to extreme, embarrassing or age-inappropriate behaviour. To date, there has been little research into PDA, and it remains contentious. Currently, there are no questionnaire instruments available to aid consistency in description. This study reports the development and preliminary validation of the ‘Extreme Demand Avoidance Questionnaire’ (EDA-Q), designed to quantify PDA traits based on parent-reported information.

Methods

The validation study involved data from 326 parents of children aged 5-17 allocated to six groups based on information reported by parents about received diagnoses and behavioural difficulties: (a) typically developing children (N = 102), (b) children with ASD without disruptive behaviour (N = 36), (c) children with ASD with disruptive behaviour (N = 48), (d) children for whom PDA was suspected by parents (irrespective of other diagnoses) (N = 67), (e) children who had, according to parents, been identified as having PDA by a health professional, irrespective of other diagnoses (N = 50), and (6) disruptive behaviour or behavioural problems without suspected/identified ASD or PDA (N = 23).

Results

Although the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) did not differentiate PDA from those with ASD plus disruptive behaviour; score on the EDA-Q was significantly higher in PDA than all comparison groups. ROC analysis indicated good sensitivity (.80) and specificity (.85). Across all case groups, females scored higher than males on the EDA-Q. Separate cut-off scores were identified for older and younger age-groups.

Conclusions

Our findings highlight the potential utility of the EDA-Q to assist the identification of this unusual profile for future research.