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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adulthood

Young, Susan; (1999) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adulthood. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy.), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

A thorough review of the literature for adults with ADHD was carried out and generally the outlook was discouraging. It was clear that childhood ADHD posed a risk for adverse outcome, including a continuation of core cognitive and behavioural deficits. However, a shortage of data about adults was revealed as most studies in the literature examine the disorder in childhood and follow them up only into adolescence. Issues of comorbidity and precise neuropsychological deficits in adulthood were unknown. It was hypothesised that clinically referred adults with ADHD would present with academic underachievement, poor occupational adjustment, antisocial and criminal behaviour, poor social interaction and relationship difficulties. It was hypothesised that they would have comorbid personality disorder, make a greater number of errors on cognitive measures of attention and impulsiveness, and overestimate on a time estimation task. These hypotheses were examined in a clinically referred sample of (1) ADHD adults, comparing them with (2) a matched clinically referred control group and (3) a matched community control group. Generally the hypotheses were supported and the pattern of results emphasised the developmental nature of the disorder. The ADHD group was significantly more impaired than the normal control group on all measures. The ADHD group was more impaired than the clinic control group on childhood measures of academic underachievement, antisocial and criminal behaviour. There was a suggestion that antisocial personality problems were present in adulthood. Cognitive testing clearly differentiated the ADHD group from the control groups, they made more error scores and were more impaired in their perception of time. Adult diagnosis was validated by relating a behavioural diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood and predicting this to their cognitive deficits. The long-term consequence of ADHD is a source of concern, particularly considering that it is largely understood to be a problem of childhood and not commonly recognised or accepted by clinicians as a disorder of adulthood. The implications of the results for research and clinical practice are discussed in the conclusion.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy.
Title: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adulthood
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; ADHD
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099219
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