Background: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has its onset during childhood and is estimated to affect 3% to 7% of school-aged children. Unfortunately, the disorder frequently persists into adult life. The burden of this disorder is considerable and is often characterized by academic (or occupational) impairment and dysfunction within the family and society. Despite the existence of research demonstrating the effects of ADHD on certain aspects of life, the clinical trials of treatments for this disorder have focused primarily on efficacy and safety.
Methods: Atomoxetine was approved in the United States in November 2002 for the treatment of ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults. The present study uses data from a clinical trial of atomoxetine in adult patients with ADHD that incorporated a measure of health-related quality of life (the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short-form health survey [SF-36]) as part of the overall assessment of the success of this relatively new treatment. The primary outcome measure for ADHD symptoms was the Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale-Investigator Rated: Screening Version (CAARS) ADHD total symptom score.
Results: In agreement with previous studies, adult patients with ADHD treated with atomoxetine at typical doses showed significant amelioration of ADHD symptoms, as measured on the CAARS. At baseline, the measures of overall mental health (one aspect of quality of life) of adult patients with ADHD were below the average level, as measured on the SF-36. Treatment with atomoxetine significantly improved the measures of mental health and ameliorated the ADHD symptoms. In addition, the 2 measures were correlated.
Conclusions: These data suggest that pharmacological intervention with atomoxetine not only ameliorates ADHD symptoms in adult patients but also improves their perceived quality of life.