Scales for the identification of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a systematic review

Res Dev Disabil. 2011 May-Jun;32(3):924-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2010.12.036. Epub 2011 Feb 12.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is prevalent in the adult population. The associated co-morbidities and impairments can be relieved with treatment. Therefore, several rating scales have been developed to identify adults with ADHD who may benefit from treatment. No systematic review has yet sought to evaluate these scales in more detail. The present systematic review was undertaken to describe the properties, including psychometric statistics, of the currently available adult ADHD rating scales and their scoring methods, along with the procedure for development. Descriptive synthesis of the data is presented and study quality has been assessed by an objective quality assessment tool. The properties of each scale are discussed to make judgements about their validity and usefulness. The literature search retrieved 35 validation studies of adult ADHD rating scales and 14 separate scales were identified. The majority of studies were of poor quality and reported insufficient detail. Of the 14 scales, the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating scale and the Wender Utah Rating Scale (short version) had more robust psychometric statistics and content validity. More research into these scales, with good quality studies, is needed to confirm the findings of this review. Future studies of ADHD rating scales should be reported in more detail so that further reviews have more support for their findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*