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Screening Adults for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Authors: Authors: Lenard A. Adler, MD; Julie Cohen, BA
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Target Audience and Goal Statement

This activity is intended for physicians, nurses, psychologists, and healthcare professionals.

The goal of this activity is to provide clinicians with the latest information on the screening and assessment tools for adult ADHD.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Review our current screening tools for ADHD.
  2. Evaluate ADHD in adults.
  3. Discuss comorbidity in the diagnosis of ADHD.


  • Lenard A. Adler, MD

    Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry & Neurology, NYU School of Medicine; Director, Department of Neurology ADHD Program, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY


    Disclosure: Dr. Adler has disclosed that he has minor stock holdings in Lilly, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson/McNeil, and Merck. He has received grants for clinical research from Lilly, Abbott Labs, Pfizer, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson/McNeil, and Merck. He has received grants for educational activities from Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson/McNeil, and Forest Labs. He has also served as an advisor or consultant for Lilly, Abbot Labs, Pfizer, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson/McNeil, and Merck. Dr. Adler reported that he does not discuss any investigational or unlabeled uses of commercial products in this activity.

  • Julie Cohen, BA

    Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY


    Disclosure: Ms. Cohen has no significant financial interest to disclose.

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  • 1.2 contact hours of continuing education for RNs, LPNs, LVNs, and NPs. This activity is cosponsored with Medical Education Collaborative, Inc. (MEC) and Medscape. MEC is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.
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Screening Adults for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Authors: Authors: Lenard A. Adler, MD; Julie Cohen, BAFaculty and Disclosures



Some patients have clear-cut ADHD: easily distracted, difficulty staying seated, constantly losing things and forgetting appointments, problems that date back to childhood, and significant impairment in multiple areas of their life. Diagnosing a patient with those symptoms would probably seem easy, but screening for adult ADHD often isn't this textbook simple. Since almost anyone who walks into the office could fall somewhere on a continuum from mild problems with disorganization to severe ADHD, how can one confidently know where the cut-off points lie?

Screening tools like rating scales, which are typically modeled on the diagnostic criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), are a necessary and important first step to making a diagnosis, particularly for a primary care physician or a psychiatrist whose specialty is not adult ADHD. Most primary care physicians and psychiatrists have not had training in this area. About 60% of children with ADHD have symptoms that persist into adulthood,[1] which translates into 4% of the US adult population, or 8 million adults. There are 3 main types of rating scales: self-report, significant other/observer report, and clinician-administered. The Adult Self-Report Scale (ASRS) is a newly developed self-rating scale that can be used to screen patients who might have ADHD.[2] There are also several other widely used rating scales.