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Original Research

Four-Year Outcome in Psychopharmacologically Treated Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Questionnaire Survey

Michael B. Lensing, MA; Pål Zeiner, MD, PhD; Leiv Sandvik, PhD; and Stein Opjordsmoen, MD, PhD

Published: January 15, 2013

Article Abstract

Objective: In adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pharmacotherapy is a recommended treatment option. However, research on long-term outcome with such treatment has been scarce.

Method: A questionnaire survey was completed by adults with ADHD, diagnosed according to ICD-10/DSM-IV criteria and approved for pharmacotherapy during 2003 to 2005, living in southeastern Norway. The questionnaire was conducted from November 2008 to April 2009. Of an eligible number of 1,096 subjects, 1,080 remained at follow-up; 371 subjects (34.4%) agreed to participate, and 368 of these reported having ever been treated with ADHD medication. Baseline characteristics and self-reported outcome were studied by time on psychopharmacologic treatment. Primary outcome measures were the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale version 1.1 (ASRS) Screener and the Mental Health Index-5 (MHI-5). Based on cutoff scores for these instruments, 2 groups (favorable outcome vs others) were created to study possible predictors of outcome status.

Results: Self-reported baseline ADHD symptoms and impairment did not differ between participants and nonparticipants. Mean observation time was 4.5 years (range, 3.5-6.0 years). At follow-up, mean age was 36.5 years. Altogether, 270 patients (73.4%) had been treated for more than 24 months. They reported better outcome on all measures compared to those treated for 24 months or less (mean values: ASRS Screener score: 12.8 vs 15.3; MHI-5 score: 63.7 vs 57. 7). The favorable outcome group consisted of 79 participants (21.5%). Comorbidity at baseline predicted poorer outcome than did no comorbid illness.

Conclusions: In adults with ADHD, pharmacologic treatment for more than 2 years was associated with better functioning than treatment for 2 years or less. Comorbidity at baseline predicted poorer outcome.

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(1):e87-e93

Submitted: February 10, 2012; accepted August 27, 2012 (doi:10.4088/JCP.12m07714).

Corresponding author: Michael B. Lensing, MA, Women and Children’s Division, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Bldg 31B, 2nd floor, PO Box 4956 Nydalen, 0424 Oslo, Norway (

Volume: 74

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