Course and predictors of persistence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults are still largely unknown. Neurobiological and clinical differences between child and adult ADHD raise the need for follow-up studies of patients diagnosed during adulthood. This study investigates predictors of ADHD persistence and the possibility of full remission 7 years after baseline assessment.
A 7-year follow-up study of adults with ADHD (n = 344, mean age 34.1 years, 49.9% males) was conducted. Variables from different domains (social demographics, co-morbidities, temperament, medication status, ADHD measures) were explored with the aim of finding potential predictors of ADHD persistence.
Retention rate was 66% (n = 227). Approximately a third of the sample (n = 70, 30.2%) did not maintain ADHD criteria and 28 (12.4%) presented full remission (<4 symptoms), independently of changes in co-morbidity or cognitive demand profiles. Baseline predictors of diagnostic persistence were higher number of inattention symptoms [odds ratio (OR) 8.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.54–25.45, p < 0.001], number of hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.04–1.34, p = 0.01), oppositional defiant disorder (OR 3.12, 95% CI 1.20–8.11, p = 0.02), and social phobia (OR 3.59, 95% CI 1.12–11.47, p = 0.03).
Despite the stage of brain maturation in adults suggests stability, approximately one third of the sample did not keep full DSM-IV diagnosis at follow-up, regardless if at early, middle or older adulthood. Although full remission is less common than in childhood, it should be considered as a possible outcome among adults.