The Transition of Youth with ADHD into the Workforce: Review and Future Directions

Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2019 Sep;22(3):316-347. doi: 10.1007/s10567-019-00274-4.


Previous research suggests that a majority of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continue to experience increased impairment across multiple life domains into adulthood. A systematic review of the occupational impairments, and associated educational and financial difficulties, faced by individuals with childhood ADHD was conducted. Systematic searches from PsycINFO and PubMed databases and other sources (i.e., books and consultants with experts) yielded 35 relevant articles that described 19 longitudinal studies on adults with a history of ADHD or related symptoms. Multiple studies indicated that those with a history of ADHD had more educational impairment and were less likely to graduate from high school and college than their peers without a history of ADHD. Subsequently, they faced lower occupational attainment, had more job instability, and demonstrated more impaired job performance, and these outcomes were largely consistent regardless of sex, medication history, or symptom persistence. Similar results were found in clinical and representative national studies in both U.S. and abroad, although older studies tended to indicate less occupational impairment. In addition, ADHD was associated with a number of financial challenges, including lower annual income, more reliance on public aid, and increased risk for homelessness. Future research should use more varied informant sources and utilize innovative measures of occupational impairment at both a macro- and micro-level of analyses. In addition, studies of effective supports and interventions in occupational settings for individuals with ADHD are needed.

Keywords: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Educational attainment; Employment; Financial outcomes; Occupational outcomes.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / economics
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / economics
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Young Adult