Adult outcome of child and adolescent attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a primary care setting.Objectives: To determine the adult status of children and adolescents previously diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), formerly called hyperkinesis or minimal brain dysfunction, a chronic, neurologically based syndrome characterized by any or all of three types of behavior: hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsivity. (ADHD Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Definition
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder characterized by distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors, and the inability to remain focused on tasks or ).
Methods: From a consecutive sample, a case series from a primary care, private physician, office-based practice was evaluated. Seventy-seven adults were eligible, having been diagnosed with ADHD as children and adolescents by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders /Di·ag·nos·tic and Sta·tis·ti·cal Man·u·al of Men·tal Dis·or·ders/ (DSM) a categorical system of classification of mental disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, that delineates objective , Revised Third and Fourth Editions criteria. Seventy-three adults were available for interviews. Parents and/or significant others were also interviewed. The same criteria used originally were employed in the adult follow-up analysis. Main outcome measures included rates of adult ADHD, other psychiatric disorders, and educational attainment Educational attainment is a term commonly used by statisticans to refer to the highest degree of education an individual has completed.
The US Census Bureau Glossary defines educational attainment as "the highest level of education completed in terms of the .
Results: Of 73 participants, only 4 (5.5%) had retained ADHD into adulthood. Sixty-nine (94.5%) did not have adult ADHD. The majority of the cohort did not exhibit any disabling dis·a·ble
tr.v. dis·a·bled, dis·a·bling, dis·a·bles
1. To deprive of capability or effectiveness, especially to impair the physical abilities of.
2. Law To render legally disqualified. psychopathology psychopathology /psy·cho·pa·thol·o·gy/ (-pah-thol´ah-je)
1. the branch of medicine dealing with the causes and processes of mental disorders.
2. abnormal, maladaptive behavior or mental activity. , and most had achieved positive educational attainment.
Conclusions: Adult follow-up of children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD shows adult ADHD is rare in primary care. The data suggests that clinicians can have the greatest impact on ADHD by concentrating on the evaluation and management of children and adolescents with the disorder.
The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association American Medical Association (AMA), professional physicians' organization (founded 1847). Its goals are to protect the interests of American physicians, advance public health, and support the growth of medical science. and a consensus statement from the National Institutes of Health state that adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) "has become well established" (1) and that "for many individuals the impact of ADHD continues into adulthood." (2)
However, adult ADHD is a difficult and formidable diagnosis to make, and identified patients Identified patient (IP)
The family member in whom the family's symptom has emerged or is most obvious.
Mentioned in: Family Therapy are a select group. (3,4) Accordingly, adult ADHD remains controversial and continues to generate differences of opinion. (5)
For example, a referred sample of adults presenting for evaluation of possible ADHD (6) and a longitudinal study longitudinal study
a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study. following children with ADHD into adulthood (7) reported rates of adult ADHD of 32% and 66% respectively. In a review of 56 studies (32 retrospective, 11 family-genetic, and 13 prospective) ADHD persisted into adulthood in 39% of the participants. (8)
Conversely, 2 other prospective studies following children with ADHD into adulthood found lower rates of adult ADHD, 4 and 8% of the cohorts, respectively. (9,10) Using a nonlinear regression In statistics, nonlinear regression is the problem of inference for a model
based on multidimensional analysis of 9 prospective studies, Hill and Schoener (11) concluded that ADHD decreases by 50% every 5 years and at 20 years of age the rate of adult ADHD would only be 0.8%.
These contrasting viewpoints come from research generated in university-based clinics. How common is adult ADHD in primary care? What is the prognosis when a young patient is diagnosed with ADHD? How can clinicians have the greatest impact?
No primary care research has been done to answer these questions. The following study was therefore undertaken to address these issues by investigating the adult outcome of children and adolescents previously diagnosed with ADHD in a primary care setting.
Materials and Methods
Between 1990 and 1995, a consecutive sample of 123 children and adolescents were diagnosed with ADHD with information obtained from parents, teachers, and patients and application of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Revised Third Edition (DSM-III-R) (12) and, after August of 1994, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV DSM-IV
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). This reference book, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the diagnostic standard for most mental health professionals in the United States. ) (13) criteria. All patients were from the author's rural, office-based practice. From this consecutive sample, 77 participants were over 18 years old in 2003 and qualified for the adult follow-up case series.
At the time of the original diagnosis, the 77 children and adolescents ranged in age from 6.3 to 15.7 years (mean [+ or -] SD age, 10.4 [+ or -] 2.2 yr). There were 60 males and 17 females. Sixty-three were white and 14 were African-American.
Using DSM-III-R criteria, 38 had ADHD and 18 had undifferentiated undifferentiated /un·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed/ (un-dif?er-en´she-at-ed) anaplastic.
Having no special structure or function; primitive; embryonic. ADHD. Following recommended diagnostic protocols, normative ADHD rating scales were employed to corroborate To support or enhance the believability of a fact or assertion by the presentation of additional information that confirms the truthfulness of the item.
The testimony of a witness is corroborated if subsequent evidence, such as a coroner's report or the testimony of other a diagnosis of ADHD, undifferentiated. (14) Using DSM-IV criteria, 9 had ADHD, combined, and 12 had ADHD, predominantly inattentive in·at·ten·tive
Exhibiting a lack of attention; not attentive.
Eighty-one comorbidities were exhibited by the 77 children and adolescents, including oppositional defiant disorder Oppositional Defiant Disorder Definition
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (n = 24), psychosomatic psychosomatic /psy·cho·so·mat·ic/ (-sah-mat´ik) pertaining to the mind-body relationship; having bodily symptoms of psychic, emotional, or mental origin.
1. complaints (n = 20), learning disabilities (n = 13), social problems (n = 12), communication disorders communication disorder
Any of various disorders, such as stuttering or perseveration, characterized by impaired written or verbal expression. (n = 4), dysphoria dysphoria /dys·pho·ria/ (-for´e-ah) [Gr.] disquiet; restlessness; malaise.dysphoret´icdysphor´ic
gender dysphoria (n = 3), enuresis enuresis
Repeated urination into bedding or clothing, usually at night, in a normal child old enough to have completed toilet training. Enuresis may be voluntary or involuntary. It may run in families. (n = 3), and separation anxiety (n = 2).
Oppositional defiant disorder, enuresis, and separation anxiety were diagnosed by DSM 1. DSM - Data Structure Manager.
An object-oriented language by J.E. Rumbaugh and M.E. Loomis of GE, similar to C++. It is used in implementation of CAD/CAE software. DSM is written in DSM and C and produces C as output. criteria. (12,13) Learning disabilities and communication disorders were diagnosed by school psychologists and speech language pathologists, respectively. Social problems were diagnosed using the asocial a·so·cial
1. Avoiding or averse to the society of others; not sociable.
2. Unable or unwilling to conform to normal standards of social behavior; antisocial. domain of the Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (15) and noting t scores of 1.5 SD or greater above the mean. Psychosomatic complaints and dysphoria were descriptive problems and not considered disorders.
Forty-three lived with both biologic parents, 15 with a parent and step-parent, and 19 were from single-parent households.
Eight parents had a history of major depression and 2 had generalized anxiety disorder Generalized Anxiety Disorder Definition
Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition characterized by "free floating" anxiety or apprehension not linked to a specific cause or situation. .
All 77 children and adolescents received psychostimulant therapy with individual titrations according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. behavioral and academic responses and side effects Side effects
Effects of a proposed project on other parts of the firm. . Comorbidities were identified and treated. Patients, families and teachers received ongoing education about ADHD, coexisting disorders, and each intervention.
At adult follow-up, in addition to patient interviews, parents and/or significant others were also interviewed. Data regarding ADHD, other psychiatric disorders, educational attainment and updated demographic information were obtained from these multiple sources. The same DSM criteria employed for the original diagnosis were used in the adult follow-up analysis.
The diagnostic protocols used for the children, adolescents and adults were consistent with contemporary practice guideline recommendations. (16,17)
Seventy-three adults from the original cohort of 77 children and adolescents were evaluated. Only 4 were unavailable for adult follow-up.
There were 57 males and 16 female participants ranging in age from 18.2 to 25.8 years (mean [+ or -] SD age, 20.9 [+ or -] 2.1 yr). Sixty were white and 13 were African-American.
Forty-nine had graduated from high school and 7 were still in high school and expected to graduate (77% completion rate). Six had completed at least one year of postsecondary education and 20 were still attending college or vocational/technical school. Two had college degrees. Seventeen students (23%) had dropped out of high school before graduation. Of these 17 pupils, 9 had been evaluated for special education and 6 had attended resource classes.
Length of psychostimulant therapy for the cohort ranged from 4 to 133 months (mean [+ or -] SD 47.4 [+ or -] 32.3 mo).
Among the participants, only 4 patients met diagnostic criteria for adult ADHD. (n = 4, 5.5% adult ADHD). Two comorbidities, learning disability (n = 1) and anxiety disorder anxiety disorder
Any of various psychiatric disorders in which anxiety is either the primary disturbance or is the result of confronting a feared situation or object. (n = 1), were exhibited. Each person retained the same subtypes (DSM-III-R ADHD [n = 1], undifferentiated ADHD [n = 1], DSM-IV ADHD, predominantly inattentive [n = 2]), that had been previously diagnosed in childhood and adolescence. All 4 continued to take psychostimulants. As expected, the length of medication treatment was longer in these adults.
Sixty-nine participants did not meet diagnostic criteria for adult ADHD (n = 69, 94.5% nonadult ADHD, see Table 1).
Current psychiatric diagnoses in the nonadult ADHD patients included major depression (n = 3), conduct disorder Conduct Disorder Definition
Conduct disorder (CD) is a behavioral and emotional disorder of childhood and adolescence. Children with conduct disorder act inappropriately, infringe on the rights of others, and violate the behavioral expectations of (n = 3), substance abuse (n = 2) and panic disorder Panic Disorder Definition
A panic attack is a sudden, intense experience of fear coupled with an overwhelming feeling of danger, accompanied by physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a pounding heart, sweating, and rapid breathing. (n = 2). These results are comparable to 1 year prevalence rates in the general population reported in The Primary Care Version of the DSM-IV (18) (see Table 2).
Because of the size differences between the adult ADHD and nonadult ADHD groups, statistical comparisons were not calculated.
Follow-up studies of children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD with input from parents and teachers give the most reliable measure of adult outcome. (19) The present study, which followed this design, revealed that only 5.5% of the participants had adult ADHD at follow-up. The majority of the cohort, 94.5%, did not retain ADHD into adulthood.
These findings are consistent with the results from the 2 prospective studies cited in the Introduction, which yielded results of 4 and 8% retention of ADHD into adulthood. (9,10) A concern that the rates would have been higher if the parent's opinion had been used, instead of just the adult patient interviews, (7) was not a consideration in the present study, which integrated the input of multiple informants.
The present study data supports the conclusion of Hill and Schoener (11) that ADHD decreases over time, and that by adulthood the rate of ADHD is low.
The 4 participants with adult ADHD met full DSM criteria for the disorder. It has been suggested that adults who exhibit symptoms of ADHD, but do not meet full diagnostic criteria, should still be included. (20,21) According to DSM-IV, these patients would qualify for inclusion as ADHD "in partial remission partial remission Partial response Oncology An incomplete response to therapy for CA; for lymphomas, PR is defined as a ↓ by ≥ 50% of the longest perpendicular diameter of all measurable lesions. Cf Complete remission, Minimal response. ." (13) However, as noted by Faraone et al (22) "this category has not been validated with empirical studies Empirical studies in social sciences are when the research ends are based on evidence and not just theory. This is done to comply with the scientific method that asserts the objective discovery of knowledge based on verifiable facts of evidence. ."
A limitation to the present study is that only one investigator conducted all phases of the research. In a private, office-based practice this is the only practical protocol. A primary care physician's knowledge about his patients and ability to accurately diagnose psychiatric conditions are assumed.
No control group of children and adolescents without ADHD were identified and followed concurrently. But the objectives of the study were addressed without these comparisons.
Previous adult-outcome studies of children with ADHD from university-based clinics show only 30% of the cohorts have no disabling conditions as adults. (23) However, in the present study, the majority of the participants, 81%, who had been diagnosed with ADHD and multiple comorbidities as children and adolescents, did not exhibit any impairing psychopathology at adult follow-up. The inclination of children and adolescents with any psychiatric disorder to have worse outcomes as adults (24) was not seen. Over 75% completed high school, with 50% of these graduates attending college or vocational/technical schools. Eight were married and four had children. Two others were single parents. None of the cohort was a parent in a blended family Blended family
A family formed by the remarriage of a divorced or widowed parent. It includes the new husband and wife, plus some or all of their children from previous marriages.
Mentioned in: Family Therapy .
This favorable outcome data, from a community-based practice with patients and families in their natural environment, is important to primary care practitioners. When ADHD is diagnosed, clinicians can advise families that with comprehensive treatment, the long-term outlook for their children and adolescents to become normal functioning adults is good.
The results of the present study show that adult ADHD is rare in primary care. Furthermore, the data suggests that clinicians can have the greatest impact on ADHD by devoting the majority of their time to delineating effective strategies to use in the management of ADHD in children and adolescents. Clearly, additional studies from primary care settings are needed to continue addressing these issues.
The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work. --Emile Zola Table 1. Comparison of participants Adult ADHD Non-Adult ADHD (n = 4) (n = 69) Gender Male 3 54 Female 1 15 Mean age (years) 19.6 [+ or -] 1.3 21 [+ or -] 2.1 Race White 3 57 African-American 1 12 Education Attending High School 1 6 Learning Disabled 1 1 High School Graduate 3 46 Dropped Out of High School 0 17 Post-High School Ed 3 22 College Degree 0 2 Family Structure Married 0 8 Single 4 61 Length of stimulant 99.5 [+ or -] 35 44.4 [+ or -] 29.7 treatment (mo) Table 2. Comparison of psychiatric disorders Non-ADHD Primary Care Adults (a) (n = 69) Version DSM4 (b) Major depression 4.1 5 Panic disorder 2.7 1.3 Substance abuse 2.7 0.2-2.0 Conduct disorder 4.1 1.5-5.5 (a) Current diagnoses, percentage. (b) One-year prevalence rates, percentage.
Accepted March 11, 2004.
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RELATED ARTICLE: Key Points
* Only 5.5% of the sample retained attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) into adulthood.
* Over 80% of the adults had no disabling psychopathology.
* With comprehensive treatment of childhood and adolescent ADHD, the long-term outlook is positive.
Louis H. McCormick, MD
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