The Value of Screening for Adults With ADHD
Research suggests that the symptoms of ADHD can persist into adulthood, having a significant impact on the relationships, careers, and even the personal safety of your patients who may suffer from it. 1-4 Because this disorder is often misunderstood, many people who have it do not receive appropriate treatment and, as a result, may never reach their full potential. Part of the problem is that it can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in adults, as they often present to your office with confounding symptoms of anxiety and depressed/demoralized moods.
Assess the presence of these symptoms or similar symptoms in childhood. Adults who have ADHD need not have been formally diagnosed in childhood. In evaluating a patient’s history, look for evidence of early-appearing and long-standing problems with attention or self-control. Some significant symptoms should have been present in childhood, but full symptomology is not necessary.Click here to download the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1) form.
The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1) Symptom Checklist was developed in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Workgroup on Adult ADHD that included the following team of psychiatrists and researchers:
- Lenard Adler, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology
New York University Medical School
- Ronald C. Kessler, PhD
Professor, Department of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School
- Thomas Spencer, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School
As a healthcare professional, you can use the ASRS v1.1 as a tool to help screen for ADHD in adult patients. Insights gained through this screening may suggest the need for a more in-depth clinician interview. The questions in the ASRS v1.1 are consistent with DSM-IV criteria and address the manifestations of ADHD symptoms as they appear in adults. Content of the questionnaire also reflects the importance that DSM-IV places on symptoms, impairments, and life-time history to ensure an accurate diagnosis. 4
The checklist takes about 2 minutes to complete by the patient and can provide information that is critical to supplement the diagnostic process.
- Schweitzer JB, et al. Med Clin North Am. 2001;85(3):10-11, 757-777.
- Barkley RA. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment. 2nd ed. 1998.
- Biederman J, et al. Am J Psychiatry.1993;150:1792-1798.
- American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association. 2000: 85-93.
Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1) Symptom Checklist Instructions
The questions on the downloadable form are designed to stimulate dialogue between you and your patients and to help consider if they may be suffering from the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Symptom Checklist is an instrument consisting of the eighteen DSM-IV-TR criteria. Six of the eighteen questions were found to be the most predictive of symptoms consistent with ADHD. These six questions are the basis for the ASRS v1.1 Screener and are also Part A of the Symptom Checklist. Part B of the Symptom Checklist contains the remaining twelve questions.
Instructions For Assessing Symptoms
- Ask the patient to complete both Part A and Part B of the Symptom Checklist by marking an X in the box that most closely represents the frequency of occurrence of each of the symptoms.
- Score Part A. If four or more marks appear in the darkly shaded boxes within Part A then the patient has symptoms highly consistent with ADHD in adults and further investigation is warranted.
- The frequency scores on Part B provide additional cues and can serve as further probes into the patient’s symptoms. Pay particular attention to marks appearing in the dark shaded boxes. The frequency-based response is more sensitive with certain questions. No total score or diagnostic likelihood is utilized for the twelve questions. It has been found that the six questions in Part A are the most predictive of the disorder and are best for use as a screening instrument.
- Review the entire Symptom Checklist with your patients and evaluate the level of impairment associated with the symptom.
- Consider work/school, social and family settings.
- Symptom frequency is often associated with symptom severity, therefore the Symptom Checklist may also aid in the assessment of impairments. If your patients have frequent symptoms, you may want to ask them to describe how these problems have affected the ability to work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people such as their spouse/significant other.