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Psychol Assess. 2010 Jun;22(2):325-35. doi: 10.1037/a0018857.

Detection of feigned ADHD in college students.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0044, USA.

Abstract

Significant motivations and incentives exist for young-adult students to seek a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). With ADHD information readily accessible on the Internet, today's students are likely to be symptom educated prior to evaluation. This may result in false-positive diagnoses, particularly when students are motivated to convey symptoms. We evaluated the utility of ADHD symptom checklists, neurocognitive tests, and measures initially developed to detect feigned neurocognitive or psychiatric dysfunction (symptom validity tests [SVTs]). The performance of 31 undergraduates financially motivated and coached about ADHD via Internet-derived information was compared to that of 29 ADHD undergraduates following medication washout and 14 students not endorsing symptomatology. Results indicated malingerers readily produced ADHD-consistent profiles. Symptom checklists, including the ADHD Rating Scale and Conners's Adult ADHD Rating Scale-Self-Rating Form: Long, were particularly susceptible to faking. Conners's Continuous Performance Test-II findings appeared more related to motivation than condition. Promising results were seen with all cognitive SVTs (Test of Memory Malingering [TOMM], Digit Memory Test, Letter Memory Test, and Nonverbal-Medical Symptom Validity Test), particularly TOMM Trial 1 when scored using Trial 2 criteria. All SVTs demonstrated very high specificity for the ADHD condition and moderate sensitivity to faking, which translated into high positive predictive values at rising base rates of feigning. Combining 2 or more failures resulted in only modest declines in sensitivity but robust specificity. Results point to the need for a thorough evaluation of history, cognitive and emotional functioning, and the consideration of exaggerated symptomatology in the diagnosis of ADHD.

PMID:
20528060
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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