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Transition to College and Adherence to Prescribed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Medication

Gray, Wendy N. PhD; Kavookjian, Jan PhD; Shapiro, Steven K. PhD; Wagoner, Scott T. MA; Schaefer, Megan R. MS; Resmini Rawlinson, Alana PhD; Hinnant, James B. PhD
Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: Post Author Corrections: October 04, 2017
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000511
Original Article: PDF Only

ABSTRACT:

Objective:

As youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) transition to adulthood, they must learn how to manage their ADHD treatment independently. This may be challenging because many of the skills necessary to adhere to treatment (e.g., organization, planning) are impaired in those with ADHD. Using electronic monitoring, we examine trajectories of adherence to medication in a cohort of college students with ADHD. Further, we examine the effect of transitioning to college and executive functioning on adherence.

Methods:

Electronic monitors tracked adherence for 51 undergraduate students with ADHD across an academic semester. Multilevel modeling examined individual trajectories in monthly adherence and the role of transition status and self-reported executive functioning on these trajectories.

Results:

Overall, participants adhered to 53.53% of prescribed doses. Transition status predicted the linear slope in adherence (β = −8.95, standard error [SE] = 3.61, p < .05), with lower initial adherence among undergraduates transitioning to independence (34.17%) compared with post-transition undergraduates (67.63%; β = 33.46, SE = 8.00, p < .001). Adherence demonstrated a curvilinear change (β = −7.23, SE = 1.25, p < .001). It increased from the beginning of the semester to midterms before subsequently declining through the rest of the semester, including during final exams. Executive functioning did not predict adherence (β = −.10, SE = .02, p = .54).

Conclusion:

Only half of all doses were taken as prescribed. Adolescents transitioning to independence demonstrated the lowest levels of adherence, suggesting that the transition to independence is a high-risk period for poor self-management of ADHD.

Address for reprints: Wendy N. Gray, PhD, Thach 22, Department of Psychology, Health Outcomes Research and Policy, Auburn University, AL 36849; e-mail: wng0001@auburn.edu.

This study was funded by a grant from the Auburn University Intramural Grant Program awarded to the first 3 authors.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received February , 2017

Accepted August , 2017

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.