South African Journal of Psychiatry

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Prevalence of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptomatology and psychiatric co-morbidity among adolescents diagnosed with ADHD in childhood

S Walker, A Venter, A van der Walt, KGF Esterhuyse


Objectives. Given the paucity of research on adolescent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this study aimed to establish the prevalence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (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 co-morbidities 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, co-morbid 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. Of the adolescents, 64.06% were still using stimulant medication. Based on the adolescent self-report,
43.75% of the sample had clinically significant symptoms of  psychopathology or maladjustment. Furthermore, 39.28% met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric co-morbidity.
Conclusion. ADHD persisted into adolescence in the current sample. A significant psychopathological and maladjustment load appears evident among adolescents previously diagnosed with ADHD, despite continuous pharmacological management of the condition.
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