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Atten Defic Hyperact Disord. 2012 Sep;4(3):101-14. doi: 10.1007/s12402-012-0085-3. Epub 2012 Jul 8.

Stigma in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequently diagnosed disorder in child- and adulthood with a high impact affecting multiple facets of social life. Therefore, patients suffering from ADHD are at high risk to be confronted with stigma, prejudices, and discrimination. A review of the empirical research in the field of ADHD with regard to stigma was performed. The findings of investigations in this field were clustered in different categories, including stigma in children with ADHD, stigma in adults with ADHD, stigma in relatives or in people close to a patient with ADHD, and the influence of stigma on authorities' attitudes toward patients with ADHD. Variables identified to contribute to stigma in ADHD are public's uncertainty concerning the reliability/validity of an ADHD diagnosis and the related diagnostic assessment, public's perceived dangerousness of individuals with ADHD, socio-demographical factors as age, gender, and ethnicity of the respondent or the target individual with ADHD, stigmatization of ADHD treatment, for example public's skepticism toward ADHD medication and disclosure of diagnostic status as well as medication status of the individual with ADHD. The contribution of stigma associated with ADHD can be conceptualized as an underestimated risk factor, affecting treatment adherence, treatment efficacy, symptom aggravation, life satisfaction, and mentally well-being of individuals affected by ADHD. Public as well as health professionals' concepts about ADHD are highly diverse, setting individuals with an ADHD diagnosis at greater risk to get stigmatized.

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