Purpose: To review the negative effects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescence and adulthood on work productivity and occupational health.
Methods: A review of the MEDLINE database was carried out to identify direct and indirect effects of ADHD on work, employment and occupational health.
Results: ADHD is associated with higher levels of unemployment versus controls. Adults with ADHD who are employed experience workplace impairment and reduced productivity, as well as behavioural issues such as irritability and low frustration tolerance. Adults with ADHD are also at increased risk of accidents, trauma and workplace injuries, particularly traffic accidents. Indirect effects of ADHD on occupational health include reduced educational achievement and increased rates of substance abuse and criminality. Overall, ADHD in adults has a substantial economic impact as a result of absenteeism and lost productivity. Psychoeducation, combined with stimulant medications if necessary, is recommended as first-line treatment for adults with ADHD. Limited data available suggest that stimulant treatment can improve work productivity and efficacy, and reduce the risks associated with driving, although further studies are necessary.
Conclusions: ADHD can affect the ability to gain and maintain employment and to work safely and productively. As ADHD is a treatable condition, patients, employers and physicians have a role to play in ensuring optimal occupational health.