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Psychiatry Res. 2012 Dec 30;200(2-3):949-56. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.04.020. Epub 2012 May 16.

A controlled study of a simulated workplace laboratory for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, United States.


Despite an extant literature documenting that adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk for significant difficulties in the workplace, there is little documentation of the underlying factors associated with these impairments. The main aim of this study was to examine specific deficiencies associated with ADHD on workplace performance in a simulated workplace laboratory relative to controls. Participants were 56 non-medicated young adults with DSM-IV ADHD and 63 age- and sex-matched controls without ADHD. Participants spent 10h in a workplace simulation laboratory. Areas assessed included: (1) simulated tasks documented in a government report (SCANS) often required in workplace settings (taxing vigilance; planning; cooperation; attention to detail), (2) observer ratings, and (3) self-reports. Robust findings were found in the statistically significant differences on self-report of ADHD symptoms found between participants with ADHD and controls during all workplace tasks and periods of the workday. Task performance was found to be deficient in a small number of areas, and there were a few statistically significant differences identified by observer ratings. Symptoms reported by participants with ADHD in the simulation including internal restlessness, intolerance of boredom and difficulty maintaining vigilance were significant and could adversely impact workplace performance over the long-term.

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