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29-08-2020 | Uitgave 12/2020

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 12/2020

Real-World Changes in Adolescents’ ADHD Symptoms within the Day and across School and Non-school Days

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 12/2020
Sarah L. Pedersen, Traci M. Kennedy, Heather M. Joseph, Sarah J. Riston, Heidi L. Kipp, Brooke S. G. Molina
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Research on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) points to the possibility that contextual factors (e.g., time of day, school vs. home) may be related to symptoms and impairment. This prior research has relied on laboratory-based or retrospective, global approaches which has limited ecological validity. The present study substantively contributes to the extant literature by examining adolescents’ ADHD symptoms in the real world across the day on both school and non-school days to test whether symptoms worsened throughout the day and were higher on school days relative to non-school days. As part of a larger study, 83 adolescents taking stimulant medication for ADHD (Mage = 14.7, 66% identified as boys/men, 78% White) completed a 17-day ecological momentary assessment protocol that included wake-up and bedtime reports and two reports in the afternoon and evening. These assessments asked about ADHD symptoms and stimulant medication usage since the last report. Hypotheses were tested using multilevel modeling. Accounting for demographic covariates and medication usage, ADHD symptoms worsened quadratically, peaking by the afternoon report and subsequently declining, across school days but not non-school days. Mean-level ADHD symptoms were also worse on school days relative to non-school days. Results did not differ across gender. In conclusion, our study is the first to examine important environmental factors (school, time of day) in real time in relation to level of naturalistically occurring ADHD symptoms. Our findings highlight the importance of advancing treatments to support adolescents with ADHD on school days and in the afternoon.

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