Association between ADHD symptoms and adolescents' psychosocial well-being: a study of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2009 Apr;68(2):133-44. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v68i2.18324.


Objectives: To investigate the psychosocial well-being of adolescents with and without symptoms of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

Study design: A cross-sectional study.

Methods: Adolescents who were 15 and 16 years old with (n = 487) and without (n = 5988) ADHD symptoms were drawn from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (n = 9432). ADHD symptoms were assessed by the parents on the SWAN scale while the adolescents completed a questionnaire on their current life situation.

Results: The adolescents with ADHD symptoms more often attended a special school and had repeated a grade than those without. Over one-third of those with symptoms were uncertain about their educational plans while 44% of them preferred vocational education. They also reported their health as being poorer and they visited a physician or a nurse more often than the others. Most adolescents reported that they were satisfied with their life, but there were a larger proportion of adolescents with ADHD symptoms among the fairly dissatisfied ones. As well, boys with ADHD symptoms reported the lack of close friends. Adverse psychosocial factors accumulated in those adolescents with greater ADHD symptoms.

Conclusions: The adolescents with ADHD symptoms considered their psychosocial well-being to be poorer than those without ADHD symptoms. In clinical work, it is essential to recognize the most impaired adolescents who need special attention and support at school as well as in their social interactions with their peers and families. From a public health perspective, this information is necessary in order to focus society's limited resources on those with a higher risk of experiencing complicated outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arctic Regions
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Efficacy
  • Socioeconomic Factors