Long-Term Outcomes of ADHD: A Systematic Review of Self-Esteem and Social Function

J Atten Disord. 2016 Apr;20(4):295-305. doi: 10.1177/1087054713486516. Epub 2013 May 22.


Objective: To compare the long-term self-esteem and social function outcomes of individuals with untreated and treated ADHD across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Method: A systematic search of 12 databases was performed to identify peer-reviewed, primary research articles, published January 1980 to December 2011, reporting long-term self-esteem and/or social function outcomes (≥2 years; life consequences distinct from symptoms) of individuals with untreated or treated ADHD.

Results: Overall, 127 studies reported 150 outcomes. Most outcomes were poorer in individuals with untreated ADHD versus non-ADHD controls (57% [13/23] for self-esteem; 73% [52/71] for social function). A beneficial response to treatment (pharmacological, nonpharmacological, and multimodal treatments) was reported for the majority of self-esteem (89% [8/9]) and social function (77% [17/22]) outcomes.

Conclusion: Untreated ADHD was associated with poorer long-term self-esteem and social function outcomes compared with non-ADHD controls. Treatment for ADHD was associated with improvement in outcomes; however, further long-term outcome studies are needed.

Keywords: ADHD; long-term outcomes; self-esteem; social functioning; treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Treatment Outcome