This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Trajectories of Quality of Life in Adolescents and Young Adults with ADHD: Examination of the Impact of Transitioning to Independence




Young, Margaret E.

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common chronic conditions. Youth with ADHD experience psychosocial consequences, including poor academic functioning, social problems, and increased mental health and behavioral concerns. ADHD is also associated with poor quality of life (QOL) in adolescents. Little is known, however, about the impact of ADHD on QOL as adolescents transition to independent young adulthood. The current study examines changes in QOL across an academic semester in an adolescent and young adult sample with ADHD and the impact of transitioning to independence on QOL trajectories. QOL was examined in 56 undergraduate students. Participants reported their QOL on a monthly basis using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory- Young Adult Module. QOL increased across the semester and transition status predicted the linear slope in QOL, B = -10.87, SE = 2.81, p <.001, with lower rates of QOL among students who had transitioned to independence. This difference in QOL scores remained constant across the semester and did not change as a result of transition status. Additionally, we compared overall QOL in the current sample to published QOL ratings of young adults who are healthy or have a chronic illness such as cancer, sickle cell disease, or asthma/allergies, as reported in the literature. There was a significant difference in total QOL scores between students with ADHD and the comparison samples, F (4, 1533) = 11.89, p < .001. Differences in social support and academic demands may explain observed differences in overall QOL between freshmen and upperclassmen.