Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and associated functional impairments in mentally disordered offenders

Susan Young*, Gisli Gudjonsson, Linda O'Rourke, Emma Woodhouse, Karen Ashwood, Declan Murphy, Philip Asherson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the rate of attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and associated functional impairments in mentally disordered offenders (MDOs). One hundred and thirty-one male MDOs with a primary diagnosis of either severe mental illness (SMI) or personality disorder (PD) completed screening questionnaires for ADHD. If positive, they were invited for a comprehensive diagnostic interview. Additional data pertaining to self-rated impairments, and objective records of critical incidents and episodes of seclusion were obtained from patient records. Twenty-six patients screened positive (7 with SMI, 19 with PD). On further assessment, no SMI patients met criteria for ADHD. Four PD patients met criteria for persistent 'syndromatic' ADHD, whereas six met 'symptomatic' ADHD criteria, giving overall prevalence estimates of 8.6% and 12.9% respectively. Greater functional impairments were self-reported by the PD+ADHD screener positive group, compared with screener negative peers, with large effect sizes. A significant but small effect was found for spending longer in seclusion. Compared with population norms, a high rate of ADHD and associated impairments are present in MDO's with a primary diagnosis of PD. These individuals have complex needs and both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions are required for their rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387–393
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Oct 2014


  • Forensic
  • Offenders
  • Outcomes
  • Personality disorder (PD)


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