The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): utility in college students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

PeerJ. 2014 Mar 25:2:e324. doi: 10.7717/peerj.324. eCollection 2014.


Background. The number of students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) enrolled in colleges and universities has increased markedly over the past few decades, giving rise to questions about how best to document symptoms and impairment in the post-secondary setting. The aim of the present study was to investigate the utility and psychometric properties of a widely-used rating scale for adults with ADHD, the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-V1.1), in a sample of post-secondary students with ADHD. Methods. A total of 135 college students (mean age = 24, 42% males) with ADHD were recruited from Student Disability Services in post-secondary institutions. We compared informant responses on the ASRS administered via different modalities. First, students' self-report was ascertained using the ASRS Screener administered via telephone interview, in which they were asked to provide real-life examples of behavior for each of the six items. Next, students self-reported symptoms on the 18-item paper version of the ASRS Symptom Checklist administered about 1-2 weeks later, and a collateral report using an online version of the 18-item ASRS Symptom Checklist. Students also completed self-report measures of everyday cognitive failure (CFQ) and executive functioning (BDEFS). Results. Results revealed moderate to good congruency between the 18-item ASRS-Self and ASRS-Collateral reports (correlation = .47), and between student self-report on the 6-item telephone-based and paper versions of the ASRS, with the paper version administered two weeks later (correlation = .66). The full ASRS self-report was related to impairment, such as in executive functioning (correlation = .63) and everyday cognitive failure (correlation = .74). Executive functioning was the only significant predictor of ASRS total scores. Discussion. Current findings suggest that the ASRS provides an easy-to-use, reliable, and cost-effective approach for gathering information about current symptoms of ADHD in college and university students. Collateral reports were moderately related to self-reports, although we note the difficulty in obtaining informant reports for this population. Use of a telephone interview to elicit behavioral descriptions for each item may be useful in future research that is required to specifically test the utility of the ASRS in, for example, documenting and confirming current reports of impairment due to ADHD symptoms and its positive and negative predictive power for diagnosis.

Keywords: ADHD; ASRS; College students; Validation.

Grants and funding

Funding for this project was provided by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (Tannock & Lewis; #482246) and the Canada Research Chairs Program (R Tannock). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.