Analysis of personal and family factors in the persistence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Results of a prospective follow-up study in childhood.


Objectives: To study the course of ADHD during childhood and analyze possible personal and family predictor variables of the results. Method: Sixty-one children with ADHD who were between 6 and 12 years old at the baseline assessment were evaluated 30 months later (mean age at baseline: 8.70 +/- 1.97; mean age at follow- up: 10.98 +/- 2.19). Status of ADHD in follow-up was identified as persistent (met DSMIV- TR criteria according to parents’ and teachers’ ratings), contextually persistent (met ADHD criteria according to one informant, and there was functional impairment) and remitted ADHD (with subthreshold clinical symptomatology). Associated psychological disorders of the three groups were analyzed in the follow-up with the Conners’ Rating Scales. The groups were compared on ADHD characteristics (symptoms of ADHD and impairment), child psychopathology, executive functioning (EF; inhibition, working memory) and parenting characteristics (parental stress and discipline styles) at baseline. Results: At the follow-up, 55.7%of the children continued to meet the DSM-IV-TR criteria for ADHD, 29.5% showed contextual persistence, and 14.8% presented remission of the disorder. The persistent and contextually persistent ADHD groups showed more associated psychological disorders. Inattention, oppositional problems, cognitive problems and impairment at baseline distinguished the remitted ADHD children from the persistent and contextually persistent ADHD children. Moreover, the persistent groups had significantly more emotional liability and higher parental stress than the group in remission, while no differences in EF where found among the groups. Conclusions: ADHD children continue to present symptoms, as well as comorbid psychological problems, during adolescence and early adulthood. These findings confirm that persistence of ADHD is associated with child psychopathology, parental stress and impairment in childhood.