The delinquency outcomes of boys with ADHD with and without comorbidity

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2011 Jan;39(1):21-32. doi: 10.1007/s10802-010-9443-9.

Abstract

This study examined the association between childhood ADHD and juvenile delinquency by examining data from the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS), a follow-up study of individuals diagnosed with ADHD in childhood (ages 5-12) and recontacted in adolescence and young adulthood for yearly follow-up (age at first follow-up interview M = 17.26, SD = 3.17). Participants were 288 males with childhood ADHD and 209 demographically similar males without ADHD who were recruited into the follow-up study. Delinquency information gathered yearly during the second through eighth follow-up provided a comprehensive history of juvenile delinquency for all participants. Four childhood diagnostic groups [ADHD-only (N = 47), ADHD + ODD (N = 135), ADHD + CD (N = 106), and comparison (N = 209)] were used to examine group differences on delinquency outcomes. Analyses were conducted across three dimensions of delinquency (i.e., severity, age of initiation, and variety). Individuals with childhood ADHD + CD displayed significantly worse delinquency outcomes than the other three groups, across almost all indices of offending. When compared to comparison participants, boys with ADHD-only and ADHD + ODD in childhood displayed earlier ages of delinquency initiation, a greater variety of offending, and higher prevalence of severe delinquency. These findings suggest that although childhood ADHD + CD creates the greatest risk for delinquency, boys with ADHD-only and ADHD + ODD also appear at a higher risk for later offending. The patterns of offending that emerged from the PALS are discussed in the context of the relationship between ADHD, comorbidity, and delinquency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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