Reliability and Validity of the Dyadic Observed Communication Scale (DOCS)

Wendy Hadley, Angela Stewart, Heather L. Hunter, Katelyn Affleck, Geri Donenberg, Ralph DiClemente, Larry K. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluated the reliability and validity of the Dyadic Observed Communication Scale (DOCS) coding scheme, which was developed to capture a range of communication components between parents and adolescents. Adolescents and their caregivers were recruited from mental health facilities for participation in a large, multi-site family-based HIV prevention intervention study. Seventy-one dyads were randomly selected from the larger study sample and coded using the DOCS at baseline. Preliminary validity and reliability of the DOCS was examined using various methods, such as comparing results to self-report measures and examining interrater reliability. Results suggest that the DOCS is a reliable and valid measure of observed communication among parent-adolescent dyads that captures both verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors that are typical intervention targets. The DOCS is a viable coding scheme for use by researchers and clinicians examining parent-adolescent communication. Coders can be trained to reliably capture individual and dyadic components of communication for parents and adolescents and this complex information can be obtained relatively quickly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Coding
  • Dyadic
  • Family
  • Observational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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