A Physician's Guide to Helping Patients with ADHD Find Success in the Workplace

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Alice R. Mao, MD; Matthew Brams, MD; Thomas Babcock, DO; and Manisha Madhoo, MD

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Postgraduate Medicine:

Volume 123 No. 5


Clinical Focus

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DOI: 10.3810/pgm.2011.09.2460
Abstract: The impact of untreated adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the workplace can be substantial, and employees with ADHD often confront frustration, employer disappointment, and low performance ratings. As a result, adults with ADHD may seek treatment from primary care providers to improve occupational performance. Previously considered a behavior disorder primarily affecting children and adolescents, ADHD in adulthood presents primarily as a cognitive disorder. Self-management deficits play a greater role in adult ADHD, particularly with respect to occupational and interpersonal functioning. Although specialized resources are available to assist adults with ADHD, many afflicted individuals may be unaware or unable to access them. Primary care providers who may be treating adults with ADHD are in a unique position to help them obtain the care and support needed to build appropriate skills and manage occupational issues. In this review, a literature search of the past 10 years was conducted to identify articles concerning ADHD and its impact on individuals in the workplace. The influence of ADHD on occupational functioning is discussed in the context of self-management impairments, diagnosis and assessment, and management strategies. With early and successful intervention, adults with ADHD may be able to become more aware of the impact of ADHD on work performance and achieve successful occupational experiences.

Keywords: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, career development, executive function, occupation, treatment, workplace