While many studies have analyzed the causes and outcomes associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), data are lacking on the perception of the disease and how this representation affects outcomes among young patients diagnosed with ADHD.
In a study, researchers applied the Common-Sense Model of Illness Representations to assess the illness representation of ADHD and how this perception correlates with quality of life (QoL), coping strategies, and treatment adherence. Adolescent patients (n=63) aged 10 to 18 years diagnosed with ADHD were recruited from clinics, parent support groups, and an educational service. Patients self-reported measures of the key constructs.
The reports suggested that adolescents view their disease as mildly threatening. The beliefs most strongly correlated with coping were perceived impact, personal control, timeline, and coherence. The beliefs that were most significantly associated with QoL were perceived impact, causes, personal control, and treatment control. Patients who perceived minimal impact, expected longer duration, had a strong sense of coherence, and believed in personal disease control were more likely to actively cope with the disease. Improved QoL was present in patients who made weaker attribution to psychological and environmental causes and believed in personal control and the effectiveness of behavioral treatment. Compared with male patients, females experienced more difficulties with disease management.
The study authors concluded that perceptions of ADHD regarding its impact, duration, coherence, and personal control may be significant factors for clinicians to consider when caring for adolescents with ADHD.