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Diagnostic utility of two commonly used ADHD screening measures among special education students.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida 32610-0177, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1999 Jan;38(1):103.



To examine the diagnostic utility of two commonly used attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) screening measures in a population of special education students and address whether screener performance is affected by demographic characteristics.


A school district population of special education students was screened for ADHD risk using two parent questionnaires, the 46-item Attention Deficit Disorders Evaluation Scale (ADDES) and the 10-item Conners Abbreviated Symptom Questionnaire (ASQ). All high-risk children and a random sample of low-risk children subsequently underwent DSM-IV-based diagnostic assessment through parental diagnostic interviews (Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version 3.0). Diagnostic utility was summarized by sensitivity, specificity, predictive utilities of positive and negative tests, and efficiency, all of which were estimated using an approach that accounted for the sampling design.


Overall efficiency scores ranged between 70% and 74%. Sensitivity estimates were below 70% even at low screener cutoff scores. The ADDES did not perform significantly better than the ASQ. Significant gender and ethnicity effects emerged.


Overall, both the ASQ and the ADDES yielded substantial numbers of false positives and false negatives among this population of children, indicating that alternative approaches will be required to accurately and efficiently identify children in need of services for ADHD. Child psychiatrists can play a valuable consulting role as school districts and primary care settings struggle to implement appropriate identification procedures for ADHD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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