How to generalize from randomized placebo controlled trials of ADHD drug treatment in adults to 'real-world' clinical practice is intriguing. This open-labeled prospective observational study examined the effectiveness of long-term stimulant and non-stimulant medication in adult ADHD including dose, side-effects and comorbidity in a clinical setting. A specialized ADHD outpatient clinic gave previously non-medicated adults (n=250) with ADHD methylphenidate as first-line drug according to current guidelines. Patients who were non-tolerant or experiencing low efficacy were switched to amphetamine or atomoxetine. Primary outcomes were changes of ADHD-symptoms evaluated with the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) and overall severity by the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF). Secondary outcomes were measures of mental distress, and response on the Clinical-Global-Impressions-Improvement Scale. Data at baseline and follow-ups were compared in longitudinal mixed model analyses for time on-medication, dosage, comorbidity, and side-effects. As results, 232 patients (93%) completed examination at the 12 month endpoint, and 163 (70%) remained on medication. Compared with the patients who discontinued medication, those still on medication had greater percentage reduction in ASRS-scores (median 39%, versus 13%, P<0.001) and greater improvement of GAF (median 20% versus 4%, P<0.001) and secondary outcomes. Continued medication and higher cumulated doses showed significant associations to sustained improvement. Conversely, psychiatric comorbidity and side-effects were related to lower effectiveness and more frequent termination of medication. Taken together, one-year treatment with stimulants or atomoxetine was associated with a clinically significant reduction in ADHD symptoms and mental distress, and improvement of measured function. No serious adverse events were observed.
Keywords: ADHD; ADHD medications; Comorbidity; Psychopharmacology; Psychostimulants; Side effects.
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