Relationship Problems Common With ADHD
Overall Well-Being, Quality of Life Linked to Severity of Symptoms
Nov. 1, 2004 -- New research shows that children with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their families face special challenges that
reach far beyond the classroom. Kids with ADHD in the study had more emotional
and mental problems than their non-ADHD peers, and family relationships were
The impact on a child's quality of life and the quality of his or her family
relationships was directly correlated with the extent of ADHD symptoms,
researchers from Vancouver's Children's and Women's Health Center of British
Columbia reported. Kids with the most severe symptoms or with two or more other
psychological conditions had the lowest quality-of-life scores, indicating
overall physical, social, and psychological well-being.
"Quality of life is an important measure to consider in evaluating
children with ADHD, but we are only just beginning to study it," researcher
Anne F. Klassen, DPhil, tells WebMD. "ADHD is the most researched
psychiatric disorder in kids, but most of the focus has been on measuring
Lower Self-Esteem in ADHD Kids
It is estimated that between 3% and 5% of children have ADHD; boys are three
times more likely to have it than girls. The impact of ADHD on classroom
performance has been well studied, but less is known about its impact on
overall health and relationships.
In the newly reported study, Klassen and colleagues surveyed 131 children
with ADHD and their families using a standardized questionnaire designed to
measure overall quality of life. They compared the responses with those of
children without ADHD.
Though the two groups were similar in terms of physical health, the ADHD
kids had more emotional and mental health issues, including low self-esteem.
The more ADHD symptoms a child exhibited, the lower the quality-of-life score
was likely to be. The severity of symptoms also predicted the likelihood of
family stress. Parents of children with the most ADHD symptoms were most likely
to report that their child's problems caused them emotional worry and limited
the time they had to meet their own needs.
Defiant, Conduct Disorders
While having other psychological conditions had a direct impact on quality
of life, some were more significant than others. Children with oppositional
defiant disorder and/or conduct disorder -- characterized by frequent conflict
with parents or other authority figures -- had the lowest quality-of-life
Pediatrics professor Martin T. Stein, MD, agrees that quality-of-life
measurement has been a neglected outcome in the research evaluating children
with ADHD. Stein is director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the
Children's Hospital San Diego and is a spokesman for the American Academy of
"I think clinicians have always included informal assessment of overall
well-being in the evaluation and monitoring of children with ADHD," he
says. "However, studies like this one help to emphasize the importance of
including this measure when we study this disorder."
The research is published in the November issue of the journal