An epidemiological study of ADHD, substance use, and comorbid problems in incarcerated women in Sweden

J Atten Disord. 2015 Jan;19(1):44-52. doi: 10.1177/1087054712451126. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of ADHD and psychiatric comorbidity, including substance use in incarcerated women.

Method: This was a cross-sectional study, consisting of two parts: (a) screening using the ADHD Self-Rating Scale (ASRS) and (b) diagnostic assessment using a structured interview.

Results: A sample of 96 incarcerated women was screened and 56 underwent the diagnostic assessment. Twenty-nine percent of the women met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) diagnostic criteria for adult ADHD in the diagnostic assessment. Forty-four of the women had misuse of alcohol, and 83% had misuse of narcotics the year prior to the incarceration. The ASRS showed sensitivity of 1.0 and specificity of 0.66.

Conclusion: The prevalence rate of ADHD in incarcerated women was high and comparable to that in male offenders. Illicit stimulant use and antisocial personality disorder were significantly more common in women with ADHD. ASRS is useful as a screener in this population.

Keywords: ADHD; comorbidity; incarcerated; women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prisons
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult