The Association Between Youth Violence Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms in a Sample of Fifth-Graders

Published in: The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, v. 85, no. 5, Sep. 2015, p. 504-513

Posted on RAND.org on November 11, 2015

by Terri Lewis, David C Schwebel, Marc N. Elliott, Susanna N. Visser, Sara L Toomey, Katie A. McLaughlin, Paula Cuccaro, Susan R. Tortolero, Stephen W. Banspach

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The purpose of the current study was to examine the association between violence exposures (no exposure, witness or victim only, and both witness and victim) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, as well as the potential moderating role of gender. Data from 4,745 5th graders and their primary caregivers were drawn from the Healthy Passages study of adolescent health. Parent respondents completed the DISC Predictive Scales for ADHD, and youth provided information about exposure to violence. Results indicated that youth who reported both witnessing and victimization had more parent-reported ADHD symptoms and were more likely to meet predictive criteria for ADHD. Among those with both exposures, girls exhibited a steeper increase in ADHD symptoms and higher probability of meeting predictive criteria than did boys. Findings indicate that being both victim-of and witness-to violence is significantly associated with ADHD symptoms particularly among girls.

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