Studies show financial burden of ADHD affects individuals, families

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 percent of American children between the ages of 4 and 17 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Research guided by Timothy F. Page, interim chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, in collaboration with FIU’s Center for Children and Families, is working to better understand the economic burden that individuals and their families face because of ADHD. 

“As with any disorder, a diagnosis of ADHD results in costs that an individual must bear, as well as the family and society,” said Page. “While there is a percentage of children who will ‘outgrow’ the disorder, some live the social and financial repercussions throughout adulthood – and we want to understand how this is burdening pocketbooks and taxpayers.” 

The research is based on long-term follow up with a cohort of about 500 individuals, both with and without ADHD, who were recruited as part of a funded project through the University of Pittsburgh and followed over time.

“By following these individuals and their families over the years, we have learned a lot about their financial strains and it is much more than simply the medication and doctors’ appointments,” Page continued. “Families incur far more ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses that go far beyond those of families that do not have a child with ADHD.” 

One of the group’s recent studies found that, on average, families of kids with ADHD spent $15,036 per child on additional education resources, incidentals and daily items —apart from medical treatment— compared to families of kids without ADHD who spent $2,848 over the course of a child’s development. 

Additionally, using a projection model, the authors found that those diagnosed with ADHD are expected to earn $1.27 million less over the course of their lives

While about 40 percent of those who had been diagnosed in childhood no longer show the signs of ADHD in adulthood, of those 40 percent, some still show substantially worse financial outcomes compared to those who had never been diagnosed with ADHD. Boys, who are more than twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with the disorder, are expected to reach retirement with 40–75 percent lower net worth, compared to a child without ADHD.

“These studies shows that not only does ADHD have an impact in childhood, but its impacts are felt into adulthood as well, even when the individual is no longer symptomatic,” Page said. “These two studies really highlight the financial difficulties that individuals with ADHD face. It them becomes essential for family and the state to step-in and provide support. That is why we need better ways to help them reach their full economic potential.  Improving long-term economic outcomes for diagnosed individuals would alleviate financial burdens on families and taxpayers.”