Childhood Predictors of Adult Functional Outcomes in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA)

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2017 Aug;56(8):687-695.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.05.020. Epub 2017 Jun 8.


Objective: Recent results from the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; MTA) have demonstrated impairments in several functioning domains in adults with childhood ADHD. The childhood predictors of these adult functional outcomes are not adequately understood. The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of childhood demographic, clinical, and family factors on adult functional outcomes in individuals with and without childhood ADHD from the MTA cohort.

Method: Regressions were used to determine associations of childhood factors (age range 7-10 years) of family income, IQ, comorbidity (internalizing, externalizing, and total number of non-ADHD diagnoses), parenting styles, parental education, number of household members, parental marital problems, parent-child relationships, and ADHD symptom severity with adult outcomes (mean age 25 years) of occupational functioning, educational attainment, emotional functioning, sexual behavior, and justice involvement in participants with (n = 579) and without (n = 258) ADHD.

Results: Predictors of adult functional outcomes in ADHD included clinical factors such as baseline ADHD severity, IQ, and comorbidity; demographic factors such as family income, number of household members and parental education; and family factors such as parental monitoring and parental marital problems. Predictors of adult outcomes were generally comparable for children with and without ADHD.

Conclusion: Childhood ADHD symptoms, IQ, and household income levels are important predictors of adult functional outcomes. Management of these areas early on, through timely treatments for ADHD symptoms, and providing additional support to children with lower IQ and from households with low incomes, could assist in improving adult functioning.

Keywords: Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD study; adult outcomes; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; childhood predictors; functioning.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / therapy
  • Child
  • Educational Status*
  • Emotions*
  • Employment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Income* / statistics & numerical data
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Young Adult