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, 12 (9), e0184964

Skills and Compensation Strategies in Adult ADHD - A Qualitative Study


Skills and Compensation Strategies in Adult ADHD - A Qualitative Study

Carlos Canela et al. PLoS One.


Objective: The primary objectives of this study were to investigate how adult patients with ADHD coped with their symptoms prior to diagnosis and treatment, what skills and compensation strategies they had developed and what their self-perceptions of these strategies were.

Methods: We used a qualitative approach to analyze interviews with 32 outpatients of a specialty care unit at a university hospital.

Results: Patients reported frequent use of diverse compensatory strategies with varying degrees of effectiveness. These were classified into five categories (organizational, motoric, attentional, social, psychopharmacological). In certain circumstances, ADHD symptoms were even perceived as useful.

Conclusion: Before diagnosis and treatment, patients with ADHD may develop a variety of skills to cope with their symptoms. Several of these skills are perceived as helpful. Knowledge of self-generated coping strategies may help better understand patients and their histories and thus facilitate patient cooperation. Moreover, knowing ways in which such patients cope with their symptoms may help elucidate reasons for late or under-diagnosing of the disorder.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Categories.
Reported skills could be roughly organized into five categories: motoric, organizational, social, pharmacological and attentional.

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Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.