Cohort Change in the Prevalence of ADHD Among U.S. Adults: Evidence of a Gender-Specific Historical Period Effect

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Objective: To document inter- and intra-cohort changes in adult ADHD and examine whether changes vary by gender. Method: We analyze data from the 2007 and 2012 U.S. National Health Interview Survey. Results: The prevalence of ADHD among adults aged 18 to 64 years increased from 3.41% in 2007 to 4.25% in 2012. As expected, patterns of inter- and intra-cohort change varied by gender. At younger ages, inter-cohort gender differences are more distinct due to a spike in prevalence among boys/men born in or after 1980. Consistent with a gender-specific historical period effect, recent intra-cohort increases among women have narrowed the gender gap. Conclusion: The gender gap in the prevalence of ADHD among adults decreased by 31.1% from 2007 to 2012 due to increased prevalence among adult women of all ages. We discuss these results in relation to diagnostic practice, adult health and well-being, data limitations and needs, and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • ADHD
  • adult health
  • cohort change
  • gender
  • historical period effect
  • prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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