U.S. household income losses due to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) total nearly $77 billion each year, according to a new analysis of the national large-scale survey, "Capturing America's Attention," presented today at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting in Atlanta.
"ADHD, a life-long disorder, may be one of the costliest medical conditions in the United States," said Joseph Biederman, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Chief of Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital. "The same ADHD symptoms that may cause young patients to perform poorly in school or miss classes may also cause these patients, as adults, to lose a significant amount of income each year. The compelling results of this survey show that ADHD is a serious medical condition causing significant, life-long impairments. Evaluating, diagnosing and treating this condition may not only improve the quality of life, but may save adults with ADHD billions of dollars every year."
Biederman and his colleagues found that adults with ADHD have a lower educational attainment and achievement than healthy adults -- factors that not only significantly impact employment rates and income, but cause difficulties in the workplace as well. But even when the investigators accounted for educational attainment and achievement, they found the average loss of household income per adult with ADHD ranged from $8,900 to $15,400 per year, depending on the econometric model used.
Over eight million adult Americans, or 4.3 percent of working-age adults, struggle with the inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity of ADHD. With this large-scale survey, researchers examined a weighted sample of 500 ADHD adults and 501 gender- and age-matched healthy adults that reflect the general U.S. population. They also accounted for personal and family characteristics, including characteristics closely tied to ADHD status, to arrive at the estimate of yearly household income losses due to the condition.
Nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce (28 million workers ages 18 to 54) experience a mental disorder, according to a 2002 study by the University of Michigan. Employers are now starting to provide services that could be helpful to affected families including flexible work hours, family leave arrangements and childcare assistance, according to Dr. Biederman. Most employers offer employee assistance programs primarily targeted to helping employees deal with psychological issues, or work/life programs that focus on balancing work and family responsibilities.
ADHD affects educational attainment
According to the "Capturing America's Attention" survey results, adults with ADHD reported lower educational achievement and were less likely to be high school or college graduates. Higher education is associated with an expected higher income, and also is associated with higher rates of full-time employment. However, approximately 17 percent of the adults surveyed with ADHD did not graduate from high school, compared to 7 percent of those without ADHD. Similarly, just 19 percent of the adults with ADHD graduated from college compared to 25 percent of the adults without ADHD.
ADHD impacts employment