The quality of life of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review

Innov Clin Neurosci. 2012 May;9(5-6):10-21.


Objective: Across all medical specialties, quality of life has become an important measure of outcomes in both research and clinical settings. However, to date, there has not been a systematic review of the research relevant to quality of life in populations with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. We approach quality of life in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by answering the following questions: 1) What specific metrics are used to assess quality of life in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? 2) What is the impact of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on quality of life? 3) What effects do attention deficit hyperactivity disorder treatments have on quality of life? Searches of major electronic databases were conducted, and reference lists from the identified articles were searched for additional studies, with a focus on studies that utilized quality of life measures.

Design: Thirty-six relevant studies are included in our review.

Results: There are multiple unique measures currently used to measure quality of life in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ranging from general quality of life scales to those specifically designed for use in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was found to significantly worsen the quality of life in adults. Treatment with atomoxetine and mixed amphetamine salts has shown beneficial effects on quality of life even in cases without symptomatology improvement.

Conclusion: Pharmacological treatment and early diagnosis have a positive impact on outcomes, longterm prognosis, and quality of life in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Having multiple unique measures of quality of life have limited the direct comparison of different classes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication treatments and future research should be aimed to address this.

Keywords: Adult attention deficit; hyperactivity disorder; quality of life.