Managing ADHD across the lifespan in the primary care setting

David W. Goodman, Robert A. Lasser, Thomas Babcock, Michael L. Pucci, Mary V. Solanto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurobehavioral condition that affects most patients throughout their lives and is associated with occupational underachievement, psychiatric comorbidity, and substance abuse. Primary care physicians (PCPs) are at the forefront of helping patients with ADHD manage symptoms and overcome functional impairments. In this article, the problems of recognizing and effectively managing ADHD are explored through the presentation of 2 composite patient cases based on real patients in the authors' practices. Both cases highlight maturational changes in ADHD-related problems as patients develop through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. The striking differences between the cases serve to illustrate the highly varied clinical presentation and developmental trajectories of ADHD, moderated by family environment, patient characteristics, and life events. Emphasis is placed on understanding the crucial developmental turning points from early childhood through adulthood at which patients with ADHD are most likely to need increased support and specialized behavioral interventions. Diagnosis of adult ADHD is also reviewed, including an overview of potentially clinically relevant patient characteristics that should alert PCPs to the possible presence of ADHD and use of the World Health Organization's rapid 6-item adult ADHD Self-Report Scale as a screening device. The present discussion challenges PCPs to recognize the varied presentations of what ADHD "looks like," and describes the need for PCPs to establish and maintain working partnerships with families, patients, and mental health care professionals in their local communities to successfully treat ADHD across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalPostgraduate medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Adult
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Chronic care
  • Development
  • Lifespan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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