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Clin Psychol Rev. 2016 Aug;48:32-42. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.05.002. Epub 2016 May 24.

A meta-analysis and systematic review of the risks associated with childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder on long-term outcome of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations.

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Research Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Aalborg Psychiatric Hospital, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark. Electronic address:
Research Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Aalborg Psychiatric Hospital, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark; Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology, Department of Psychology, University of Basel, Switzerland; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


The primary aim of this study was to systematically review and estimate the risk of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations associated with childhood Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in long-term outcome studies. In addition, all included studies were qualitatively and systematically reviewed for predictors of long-term crimes. The databases Pubmed, PsycINFO and Embase were searched for all controlled studies that included children and adolescents (age 4-15) with ADHD who had been followed longitudinally and reported the frequency of arrests, convictions or incarcerations based on data from official sources. Using random-effects models, the relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) was estimated. A total of 15,442 individuals with childhood ADHD from nine unique samples were included. Childhood ADHD was significantly associated with adolescent and adulthood arrests (RR: 2.2, 95% CI: 1.3-3.5), convictions (RR: 3.3, 95% CI: 2.1-5.2) and incarcerations (RR: 2.9, 95% CI: 1.9-4.3). Individuals with ADHD had a younger age at onset of antisocial involvement and an increased risk of criminal recidivism. The most frequently committed criminal offenses were theft, assault, drug- and weapon-related crimes. Early antisocial behavior problems, childhood maltreatment, sex, and IQ were identified as potentially relevant predictors for antisocial outcomes. The findings support a substantial long-term risk associated with ADHD for later antisocial involvement. Early intensive and specifically targeted multimodal intervention including psychosocial, and pharmacological treatment is warranted to alter these negative long-term developmental trajectories.


ADHD; Crime; Longitudinal; Meta-analysis

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