Prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptomatology and psychiatric comorbidity among adolescents diagnosed with ADHD in childhood

Stephen Walker, André Venter, Adriana van der Walt, KGF Esterhuysen


Objectives: Given the paucity of research on adolescent ADHD, this study aimed to establish the prevalence of DSM-IV ADHD in a cohort of South African adolescents who had been diagnosed with the disorder in childhood. It also aimed to establish the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities and adjustment difficulties in this sample.

Method: Data regarding age of diagnosis, current ADHD status, current ADHD-related pharmacological management, current psychopathology and current adjustment were gathered from 64 adolescents and their guardians via self-report questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were calculated with regard to current ADHD status, comorbid psychopathology and adjustment difficulties, as well as current ADHD-related medication.

Results: According to parent reports, 59.38% of the sample met DSM-IV criteria for ADHD Inattentive subtype, while 37.50% met the criteria for ADHD Hyperactive/Impulsive subtype. Approximately sixty-four percent (64.06%) of the adolescents were still using stimulant medication. Based on the adolescent self-report, 43.75% of the sample reported clinically significant symptoms of psychopathology or maladjustment. Furthermore, 39.28% of the adolescents met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric comorbidity.

Conclusion: ADHD did persist into adolescence in the current sample. A significant psychopathological and maladjustment load appears evident amongst adolescents previously diagnosed with ADHD despite continuous pharmacological management of the condition.


Adolescent ADHD; Psychiatric comorbidity

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Submitted: 11 June 2010
Published: 01 March 2011

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)