BACKGROUND: While Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often persists into adulthood, little is known about the needs and service use among adolescents and young adults with ADHD. The present study followed-up a cohort diagnosed with ADHD as children and assessed their: 1) needs, 2) correlates of contact with clinical services, and 3) experiences of transition from child to adult health services.

METHODS: Ninety one young people aged 14-24 were recruited from the UK subset of the International Multi-Centre ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) Project. Affected young people and parents conducted face-to-face interviews and self-completion questionnaires including a modified version of the Client Services Receipt Inventory, The Barkley's ADHD rating scale, The Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised, and the Zarit Burden Interview. Changes in key need characteristics (e.g. ADHD symptoms and impairments) over a 3-year period were examined using fixed effect models. Generalised Estimating Equations (GEE) were used to explore how key characteristics (such as ADHD symptoms) were associated with contact with clinical services across the three years.

RESULTS: At baseline 62 % met diagnostic criteria for ADHD and presented with a range of ADHD related impairments, psychiatric comorbidities, and significant caregiver burden. While ADHD symptoms and related impairments lessened significantly over the three years, psychiatric comorbidities and caregiver burden remained stable. The strongest correlate of contact with clinical services was age (OR 0.65 95 % CI 0.49-0.84) with the odds of reported contact with clinical services decreasing by 35 % for each year increase in age at baseline and by 25 % for each year increase in age over time. Only 9 % of the sample had experienced a transfer to adult services, with the majority reporting unmet needs in healthcare transition.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite continuing needs, few were in contact with adult health services or had received sufficient help with transition between child and adult health services. The main determinant of health service use for adolescents and young adults with ADHD is age - not needs. Service models should address the needs of ADHD individuals who are no longer children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/therapy
  • Caregivers
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Services/statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transition to Adult Care
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult


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