Unique Associations between Specific Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Related Functional Impairments
Zoromski AK, Epstein JN, Ciesielski HA
J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2021 Jan 7;Publish Ahead of Print.
Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: If specific symptom domains are associated with specific domains of impairment this would alert clinicians to those difficulties and possibly help us to understand the mechanisms by which symptoms drive impairment.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the unique relationships between specific attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and functional impairment in school-age children using parent and teacher ratings.
Methods: Parents and teachers rated ADHD symptoms and comorbidities (internalizing and oppositional behaviors) as well as impairments (academic, relationship, and classroom behavior) for 8689 children using the Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Rating Scales. Stepwise regression was used to determine which of the 18 ADHD symptom items were most associated with specific domains of impairment with relevant demographic and clinical characteristics used as covariates (e.g., sex, comorbidities, medication status, and age).
Results: “Careless mistakes” and “avoids tasks” significantly predicted academic impairment across content areas and across parent- and teacher-rating models. ADHD symptoms accounted for limited variance in impairment in the family and peer relationship domains or in organized activities when oppositional symptoms were entered as a covariate. Regarding teacher-rated classroom behavior, the strongest predictor of impairment was “talks too much.”
Conclusion: The findings indicate that the symptoms that were most predictive of impairment varied by domain of impairment.
* Abstracts are selected for their clinical relevance by Dr. Margaret Weiss, Director of Clinical Research, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University. Her commentary reflects her own opinion. It is not approved or necessarily representative of the CADDRA board