ADHD News & Research

Adult Work Productivity Decreases with Poor ADHD Medication Adherence

A new study found a direct correlation between ADHD medication adherence and work productivity among adults with ADHD, who also faced increased indirect costs when they stopped taking their oral stimulant ADHD medication regularly.

June 22, 2021

Poor stimulant medication adherence was associated with greater absenteeism and indirect costs for adults with ADHD, according to a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.1 The small study, which included 395 participants with low/medium adherence and 207 with high adherence to ADHD medication, found significantly greater levels of absenteeism, absenteeism-related indirect costs, and total indirect costs among the subjects with poor adherence. In the low/medium adherence group, the most common reasons for nonadherence included “being unsure how to take the medicine, not having the money to pay for the medicine, not considering taking the medicine a high priority in the daily routine, not having a way to get to the pharmacy/provider, and thinking the medicine was not needed anymore.”

Previous research has found that ADHD is correlated with poor workplace productivity; one U.S. study found that adults with ADHD (with unspecified treatment status) held jobs for shorter periods, were fired or dismissed more frequently, and had more frequent interpersonal problems in the workplace than employees without ADHD.2 ADHD in adults has also been linked to excess costs; one US study estimated excess indirect costs due to work productivity loss at $2.6 billion in adults who were and were not being treated for their ADHD.3

The present study used an online survey to assess 602 adults with a self-reported diagnosis of ADHD who had been receiving oral psychostimulant treatment for 3 or more months. Their habits were assessed using the Medication Adherence Reasons Scale [MAR-Scale] and the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment–General Health questionnaire. Further research is needed to understand the approaches to treating adults with ADHD that could improve adherence and optimize treatment, which in turn would lessen the impact of ADHD on workplace productivity and decrease subsequent costs.

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1 Spalding W, Farahbakhshian S, Maculaitis MC, Peck EY, Goren A. The Association of Oral Stimulant Medication Adherence with Work Productivity among Adults with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders. June 2021. doi:10.1177/10870547211020113

2 Murphy, K. R., Barkley, R. A. (2007). Occupational functioning in adults with ADHD. The ADHD Report, 15(1), 6–10.

3 Birnbaum, H. G., Kessler, R. C., Lowe, S. W., Secnik, K., Greenberg, P. E., Leong, S. A., Swensen, A. R. (2005). Costs of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the US: Excess costs of persons with ADHD and their family members in 2000. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 21(2), 195–206.