'Do I need to become someone else?' A qualitative exploratory study into the experiences and needs of adults with ADHD

Samuel J C Schrevel*, Christine Dedding, Jeroen A. van Aken, Jacqueline E W Broerse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common psychiatric disorder in childhood which has recently been acknowledged to persist into adulthood in two-thirds of cases. However, the problems faced by adults with ADHD in their daily lives remain largely unexplored. Objective: To assess the perspectives, problems and needs of adults with ADHD. Design and Participants: In this exploratory qualitative study, adults (n = 52) with a primary ADHD or ADD diagnosis, aged 21 years or older, participated in eight focus groups in five cities in the Netherlands. Results: Although core symptoms of ADHD were perceived as a problem, participants placed greater emphasis on social problems that arise from living with ADHD and their subsequent effects on self-image. Accompanying problems were feelings of powerlessness, lack of acceptance by their social environment and poor self-image. Adults with ADHD would like to see greater acceptance of ADHD and its accompanying problems, together with appreciation for personal competences and strengths in certain domains, such as creative or associative thinking. Conclusion: Our study adds to previous research by providing insight into how these problems are interrelated and their strong link to the social environment. Perceived powerlessness, failure and negative reactions of the social environment lead to a persistent low self-image. This merits substantial attention in future research, particularly when considering on-going care options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

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