The three-year outcome of emotional symptoms in clinically referred youth with ADHD and their relationship to neuropsychological functions

Pia Tallberg, Kristina Svanberg, Anne-Li Hallin, Maria Råstam, Peik Gustafsson, Sean Perrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Further knowledge is needed regarding long-term outcome of
emotional symptoms, and the interplay between these symptoms and neuropsychological functioning in youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Objective: We aimed to explore the effect of performance-based neurocognitive functions and parent-rated behavioral executive functioning (EF) on self-rated and parent-rated internalizing symptoms longitudinally in clinically referred youth with ADHD (n = 137; mean age = 12.4 years). We also aimed to examine the change in self-rated emotional symptoms in the ADHD group and a Control group (n = 59; mean age = 11.9 years). Method: At baseline, and three years later, parents completed rating scales of their child’s ADHD symptoms (Swanson Nolan Pelham Scale, Version IV – SNAP-IV), emotional symptoms (Five To Fifteen Questionnaire, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), and EF (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function). At the same time, the child completed self-report measures of Anxiety, Depression, and Anger Inventories (the Beck Youth Inventories) and
neurocognitive measures (Conner’s Continuous Performance Test, Version II (CPT-II), Working Memory and Processing Speed composites (Wechsler Intelligence Scales). Statistical analyses were linear and logistic mixed models. Results: Using longitudinal data, parent- and self-ratings of emotional symptoms were associated with parent-ratings of EF behavior in youth with ADHD. Planning/organizing deficits were associated with Anxiety and Anger over and above other metacognitive subscales, while Emotional Control was related to Anger over and above other behavior regulation subscales. In the ADHD group, Anger symptoms improved across measuring points. When controlling for age, Anxiety, and Depression symptoms were largely stable in both groups, however at higher levels in the ADHD group. The differences in anxiety and depression symptoms
across groups decreased over time. Conclusions: The current study emphasizes the importance of identification, monitoring, and treatment of emotional symptoms, and behavioral aspects of EF in youth with ADHD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-86
Number of pages14
JournalScandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology
  • Psychiatry

Free keywords

  • ADHD
  • Emotional Symptoms
  • Executive functioning
  • Follow up study
  • Youth


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