Journal of Attention Disorders 1 –7 DOI: 10.1177/1087054718763736 journals.sagepub.com/home/jad
Benjamin J. Lovett and Alexander H. Jordan
Rates of ADHD in college students have been increasing somewhat in recent years, as has use of screening tools to help identify individuals at risk for disorders such as ADHD. These investigators designed a trial to examine whether screening for adult ADHD, in essence creating some positive expectation bias of having the disorder in leading to increased reporting of ADHD symptoms and altered performance on cognitive tests. One group was screened for ADHD using the ASRS v.1.1 Screener and received feedback if they screened positive for the disorder and then completed a self ADHD symptom checklist (CAARS: S Long version) and a batter of psychological tests (three subtests on the Woodcock– Johnson IV Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ-IV) (processing speed), a mathematical test and Letter-Pattern Matching (LPM)/Number-Pattern Matching (NPM), and Pair Cancelation (PC) for general cognitive efficiency. The control group received the same interventions except were not screened for ADHD. There were no significant differences in the two groups in terms of ADHD symptoms or neuropsychological measures. The authors note that while there was concern that screening positive for ADHD might result in increased expectation of having more ADHD symptoms, these effects were limited and did not significantly affect reporting ADHD symptoms. Several limitations of the trial include the constraint of the sample to only college students which limits the generalizability of the results, the absence of a comparison intervention (ie. Mock screening) in the control group and the use of DSM-IV version of the adult ADHD screener, instead of the most recently validated DSM-5 version. The important take-home point for clinicians seeing college students is the lack of increased reporting of ADHD symptoms and absence of effects on neuropsychological tests introduced by the process of screening for ADHD.