Prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms in university students before and during COVID-19

Remon Nicolai*, Anselm Fuermaier, Norbert Borger, Saleh Mohamed, Miguel Garcia Pimenta, Geraldina Gaastra, Yvonne Groen

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk



Objective: A special group of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are emerging adults with ADHD studying at university. These young adults typically have greater problems compared to their peers in many domains of life. High intelligence is therefore not protective for the impairments that ADHD is causing. To date, there is little knowledge on prevalence in university students. This study estimates the prevalence of ADHD symptoms in Dutch university students before and during COVID-19.
Method: Students from the social science faculty of a Dutch university were recruited in four consecutive academic years. The four cohorts included n = 404 (2018), n = 277 (2019), n = 350 (2020), and n = 415 (2021), reaching a total of N = 1446. ADHD symptoms and prevalence rates of positive screenings were measured by means of a thorough screening with Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scale (CAARS) Long Form (Conners et al., 1999).
Results: Prevalence rates varied between 7.6-15.4% for the ADHD DSM-IV scale and 3.6-6.3% for the ADHD index, and did not significantly differ before and during COVID-19. No effect for the four cohorts was found for the subscales Inattention/Memory problems, Hyperactive/Restlessness, Impulsivity/Emotional lability, and Problems with self-concept. Compared to normative scores, university students reported significantly more Inattention/Memory problems (d = .25) and Self-concept problems (d = .11) than average.
Conclusions:Thorough screening across four cohorts of Dutch university students indicates considerable levels of ADHD symptoms with higher rates for the classic DSM-IV scale and lower rates for ADHD Index. University students report elevated levels of problems with Inattention/Memory and Self-concept. ADHD symptoms did not change across the period from pre to post-COVID pandemic. These findings highlight that there is a specific group of students needing support for adjusting and succeeding in academia, regardless of circumstances.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 2023
Evenement9th World Congress on ADHD 2023: Modernising the concept of ADHD - RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duur: 18-mei-202321-mei-2023


Radio/Television9th World Congress on ADHD 2023
Verkorte titelADHD World Congress 2023

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