Clinical course of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder from childhood toward early adolescence

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003 Sep;42(9):1085-92. doi: 10.1097/01.CHI.0000070241.24125.A3.


Objective: To study the course of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in late childhood to adolescence using a multi-informant and multi-assessment procedure.

Method: Subjects were 35 children with ADHD and 35 matched controls with a mean age of 10 years at first assessment. DSM-III-R-based structured diagnostic interviews and behavioral questionnaires based on parents, teachers, and youth informants were used. Cross-informant behavioral syndromes were obtained by use of the Child Behavior Checklist, the Teacher's Report Form, and the Youth Self-Report. Subjects were reassessed after 1.5 and 2.6 years.

Results: Behavioral differences between the two groups were significant for the majority of scales for all three informants at all three times. Diagnostic interviews revealed a persistence rate of 46% over 2.6 years. However, there were only few significant behavioral differences across informants between the nonpersistent and the persistent groups. The fit between interview-derived syndrome scores reflecting subtypes of ADHD and both parents and youth questionnaire data was good, whereas for the teacher ratings it was poor. A high rate of 89% correct classification of the outcome diagnoses was possible based on behavioral data at time 1.

Conclusions: The study of the course of ADHD should be based both on interview and questionnaire data and should include several informants. Operationally defined diagnoses alone may lead to an underestimation of persistent behavioral problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Syndrome