Life impairments in adults with medication-treated ADHD

Steven A. Safren, Susan E. Sprich, Christine Cooper-Vince, Laura E. Knouse, Jonathan A. Lerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective: In developing psychosocial approaches to augment outcomes for medication-treated adults with ADHD, it is important to understand what types of life-impairments are most affected by continued ADHD symptoms that occur despite medication treatment. This may assist in delineating targets for interventions, as well as assessments of functional outcomes that are sensitive to change in this population. Method: The sample consists of 105 adults with ADHD presenting for entry into clinical trials of CBT for residual ADHD. Life impairments are rated by a clinician using the LIFE-RIFT, which has subscales for work impairment, interpersonal impairment, life-satisfaction, and recreation, ADHD symptoms using the ADHD Rating Scale, overall ADHD severity using the clinical global impression, and associated distress using the Hamilton Depression and Anxiety Rating Scales. Results: The most problematic impairments are in the domain of work, followed by interpersonal. Generally, the subscales of the LIFE-RIFT are associated, at the bivariate level, with all 4 symptom indices. Work and interpersonal impairments are uniquely associated with overall severity of ADHD symptoms using both the CGI and the ADHD Rating Scale. However interpersonal and life-satisfaction impairments are uniquely associated with depression, and life-satisfaction is uniquely associated with anxiety. Conclusion: In medication-treated adults with ADHD, work and interpersonal impairments appear to be the most problematic areas of life-impairment, which are uniquely associated with ADHD severity. Life-satisfaction appears to be uniquely associated with distress as defined by anxiety and depression symptoms, with interpersonal impairments also playing a role. Psychosocial treatments for medication treated adults should target work and interpersonal domains and should include skills for managing associated distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-531
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adults
  • Life impairments
  • Life satisfaction
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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