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, 57 (8), 571-582.e1

Predicting the Adult Functional Outcomes of Boys With ADHD 33 Years Later


Predicting the Adult Functional Outcomes of Boys With ADHD 33 Years Later

María A Ramos-Olazagasti et al. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry.


Objective: Little is known of the factors that influence the course of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Objectives were to identify early features predictive of the adult outcome of children with ADHD. In the longest prospective follow-up to date of children with ADHD, predictors of multiple functional domains were examined: social, occupational, and overall adjustment and educational and occupational attainment.

Method: White boys (6-12 years, mean age 8 years) with ADHD (N = 135), selected to be free of conduct disorder, were assessed longitudinally through adulthood (mean age 41) by clinicians blinded to all previous characteristics. Predictors had been recorded in childhood and adolescence (mean age 18).

Results: Childhood IQ was positively associated with several outcomes: educational attainment, occupational rank, and social and occupational adjustment. Despite their low severity, conduct problems in childhood were negatively related to overall function, educational attainment, and occupational functioning. Two other childhood features that had positive associations with adult adjustment were socioeconomic status and reading ability, which predicted educational attainment. Of multiple adolescent characteristics, 4 were significant predictors: antisocial behaviors predicted poorer educational attainment; educational goals were related to better overall function; early job functioning had a positive relation with social functioning; and early social functioning was positively related to occupational functioning.

Conclusion: Other than childhood IQ, which predicted better outcomes in several domains, there were no consistent prognosticators of adult function among children with ADHD. Providing additional supports to children with relatively lower IQ might improve the adult functional outcome of children with ADHD. However, predicting the course of children with ADHD remains a challenge.

Keywords: ADHD; adulthood; follow-up study; functional outcomes.

Comment in

  • Hyperactive Boys Grown Up
    A Charach. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 57 (8), 540-541. PMID 30071972.
    What happens when hyperactive little boys grow up? Drs. Klein, Mannuzza, and their research team have been examining this important question for more than three decades. …

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