ADHD News & Research

Study: Raising a Child with ADHD Negatively Impacts Caregivers’ Mental Wellbeing

Caring for a child with ADHD negatively impacts caregivers’ quality of sleep, relationships, and satisfaction with free time, among other indicators of mental wellbeing, according to a recent study from the United Kingdom.

July 27, 2020

Raising a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) negatively impacts a caregiver’s mental wellbeing, hours and quality of sleep, satisfaction with leisure time, health, life satisfaction, and happiness with relationships, according to a new study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.1

Researchers in the U.K. studied 549 families with at least one child (aged 6-18) with ADHD, and compared them to two control groups — one taken from the U.K.’s largest household longitudinal study and the other from a cohort of 18,000 patients from South Yorkshire. Matching procedures were used to ensure a balance in key characteristics, including parental education, gender, and age. Researchers then used the EQ-5D questionnaire to measure quality of life and the Short–Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (S-WEMWBS) to measure mental wellbeing across the ADHD cohort and both control groups.

Caregivers of children with ADHD reported fewer hours of sleep and were more frequently woken by the child with ADHD. Researchers then suggested considering broader family circumstances when studying the impact of caring for a child with ADHD on sleep behaviors.

Some evidence of unhappy intimate relationships and more single parents was found within the ADHD-family group, but researchers concluded that additional analysis was needed given the potential for reverse causality (poor parental relationships and relationship breakdown could be a risk factor in the child developing ADHD behaviors). These parents also had lower rates of satisfaction with leisure time, which could be explained by the difficulty that children with ADHD can have with controlling behavior in public spaces.

Researchers noted that an adult ADHD screen was negatively related to all of the outcome measures, which strongly suggests that ADHD in caregivers has a detrimental impact upon health and well-being. However, the adult ADHD screen was included solely as a control variable.

The significant deficit in sleep and leisure satisfaction in the ADHD group led researchers to conclude that caregivers may benefit from greater support — for example, coordinated health and social care — that focuses on these areas.

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1Peasgood, T., Bhardwaj, et al. What Is the Health and Well-Being Burden for Parents Living With a Child With ADHD in the United Kingdom? Journal of Attention Disorders (2020)