Disease burden and direct medical costs of incident adult ADHD: A retrospective longitudinal analysis based on German statutory health insurance claims data

Berit Libutzki, Melanie May, Markus Gleitz, Michael Karus, Benno Neukirch, Catharina A Hartman, Andreas Reif

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Background. Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (aADHD) is still a largely unrecognized psychiatric condition despite its strong impact on individuals' well-being. Here, we describe the healthcare situation of individuals with incident aADHD over 4 years before and 4 years after initial administrative diagnosis. Methods. A retrospective, longitudinal cohort analysis was conducted using German claims data. The InGef database contained approximately 5 million member-records from over 60 nationwide statutory health insurances (SHI). Individuals were indexed upon initial diagnosis of aADHD. Results. Average age at diagnosis of aADHD was 35 years, and 60% of individuals were male. Comorbidities, resource use, and healthcare costs were substantial before initial diagnosis and decreased within the 4 years thereafter. Only 32% of individuals received initial ADHD medication and adherence was low. The majority received psychotherapy. Individuals with initial ADHD medication showed the highest share in comorbidities, physician visits, medication use for comorbidities, psychotherapy, and costs. Overall, healthcare costs were at over euro4,000 per individual within the year of aADHD diagnosis. Conclusions. We conclude that earlier recognition of aADHD could prevent the development and aggravation of comorbid mental illnesses. At the same time, comorbid conditions may have masked ("over-shadowed") aADHD and delayed diagnosis. The burden of disease in aADHD is high, which was noticeable especially among individuals who received initial ADHD-medication, suggesting that psychopharmacological treatment was mainly considered for the most severely ill. We conclude that measures to facilitate access of aADHD patients to clinical experts are required to improve reality of care in the outpatient setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2020


  • Adult ADHD (aADHD)
  • claims data
  • comorbidities
  • healthcare costs
  • medication

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