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Attention Problems Limit School Success

Attention Problems Limit School SuccessEmerging research from the University of Montreal suggests that inattention, rather than hyperactivity, is the critical indicator for high school success and graduation.

“Children with attention problems need preventative intervention early in their development,” explained lead author Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pingault.

Pingault and his research team came to their conclusion after looking at data collected from the parents and teachers of 2,000 children over a period of almost 20 years.

For this study, teachers were asked to evaluate children displaying an inability to concentrate, absentmindedness, or a tendency to give up or be easily distracted.

Teachers were also asked to identify children who were hyperactive as defined by behavior such as restlessness, running around, squirming and being fidgety.

The researchers found that only 29 percent of children with attention problems finished high school compared to 89 percent of children who did not manifest these inattention problems.

When it came to hyperactivity, the difference was smaller: 40 percent finished high school vs. 77 percent who did not.

After correcting the data for other influencing factors, such as socioeconomic status and health issues that are correlated with ADHD, inattention still made a highly significant contribution which was not the case for hyperactivity.

“In the school system, children who have attention difficulties are often forgotten because, unlike hyperactive kids, they don’t disturb the class,” said Dr. Sylvana Côte, who led the study.

“However, we know that we can train children to pay attention through appropriate activities, and that can help encourage success at school.”

Mental health experts have begun to debate whether or not it would be appropriate to separate hyperactivity and inattention problems in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

“These two health issues have now been more precisely dissected, and we may now need to define a differentiated type of inattention that is independent from hyperactivity, to improve our understanding of the phenomenon and better tailor interventions,” Pingault said.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Nov. 1, 2011.

Source: University of Montreal

Attention Problems Limit School Success

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). Attention Problems Limit School Success. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
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Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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