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Original Article

Adult Outcome of Child and Adolescent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in a Primary Care Setting

Louis H. McCormick, MD
Volume: 97 Issue: 9 September, 2004

Abstract:

Objectives: To determine the adult status of children and adolescents previously diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


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, 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.


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 psychopathology, 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.


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.

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