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National Survey of Adults with ADHD

manAccording to a national survey of over 1,000 adults diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), ADHD significantly impacts many areas of their life.

Respondents commented that the disorder impeded their ability to focus at work, as well as perform their responsibilities at home and maintain their relationships.

McNeil Pediatrics™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, sponsored the survey as part of its commitment to the ADHD community’s 2008 National ADHD Awareness Day.

ADHD is thought to affect about 9 million adults in the United States, and research on the life span of the condition notes the disorder can impair academic, social and occupational functioning, and is often associated with academic underachievement, conduct problems, underemployment, motor vehicle safety and difficulties with personal relationships.

“Findings from today’s survey underscore the impact ADHD can have for adults who are struggling to cope with and manage this condition at work, at home and in their relationships,” said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a practicing psychiatrist and founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Mass.

“As a psychiatrist who has treated adults with the condition for more than 25 years, and as an adult who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 31, I know firsthand the importance of working with a healthcare professional to identify strategies that may be effective in controlling ADHD symptoms, such as behavioral modifications and medication.”

The survey findings on adults with ADHD reinforce previous findings from a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, which concluded ADHD is a relatively common condition among working adults and is associated with impairment and work performance.

The WHO survey also found that only a small number of employed adults with ADHD are being treated for the condition, even though evidence shows medication can be effective in improving ADHD symptoms, and that on average, adult workers with ADHD miss more than three weeks a year in workplace productivity.

Adult ADHD Survey Findings

Conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of McNeil Pediatrics™, key survey findings included a variety of participant perspectives, including:

    – Most adults with ADHD agree that having the condition strongly affects their performance in multiple areas of their lives, including:
    – Their responsibilities at home (65 percent)
    – Their relationships with family and friends (57 percent)
    – Their ability to succeed at work (56 percent of those employed)

Up to half (50 percent) of those employed worry ADHD symptoms affect opportunities for promotion, and the majority feel they have to work harder (65 percent) and/or longer (47 percent) than their co-workers to accomplish similar work.

    — Three-quarters of respondents said their ADHD symptoms strongly affect their ability to stay on task at work (75 percent), while others listed challenges such as:
    – Concentrating on what others were saying (70 percent)
    – Wrapping up projects (61 percent)
    – Following through on tasks (61 percent)
    – Sitting still in meetings (60 percent)
    – Organizing projects (59 percent)

Just as their needs differ, adults with ADHD report divergent goals in managing ADHD symptoms. In selecting their top three goals for managing the condition, half cited being able to finish projects and tasks (51 percent), and getting their household more organized (51 percent). Other top-three goals included:

    – Feeling less irritable and upset (38 percent)
    – Getting personal finances more organized (28 percent) – Improving personal relationships (26 percent)
    – Feeling calmer and to feel less need to always be moving (22 percent)
    – Getting along better with others in social situations (20 percent)

One-third (36 percent) feel their ADHD symptoms are not under control, and many more (58 percent) are not satisfied with their ability to handle stress.

    – Of those whom symptoms are not under control, 54 percent feel like a failure for it.
    — One-third (37 percent) get depressed thinking about how hard ADHD is to deal with.

Adults with ADHD who participated in the survey also reported utilizing a variety of techniques to help manage their symptoms. Four out of five have used visual reminders, such as post-it notes, to help manage their ADHD symptoms. Those in the survey also reported:

    — Taking prescription medication (82 percent)
    — Listening to music (75 percent)
    — Using a planner or organizer (71 percent)
    — Exercising (69 percent)

Of those adults on medication, four out of five (81 percent) reported that not taking medication negatively impacts their work or home performance. Patients on medication said they are focused primarily on goals of symptom control and improving performance at work (74 percent), at home (69 percent) and in relationships (62 percent).

“I was diagnosed two years ago after I realized that some of the stress I felt from trying to keep up with my career, home and family might be more than stress,” said Natalie Knochenhauer, a former public defender, non-profit executive and founder of the Metro Philadelphia Chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and advocacy chair of Pennsylvania CHADD.

“After my diagnosis, I felt like I had extra hours in every day to accomplish what I needed to get done. Because of the clear benefits I have experienced, I work closely with my doctor to manage my condition, which enables me to perform better in all aspects of my life.”

Source: McNeil Pediatrics™

National Survey of Adults with ADHD

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). National Survey of Adults with ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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