Do stimulants improve functioning in adults with ADHD? Eur Neuropsych pharm.Jun.2013


4% of adults are likely to be having ADHD.These individuals are at high risks for personal injury, antisocial behaviour, substance use and traffic violations/accidents.  Deficits and distress in all areas of life is also reported. Medication is an important part of the treatment.Stimulant medications (methylphenidate and amphetamine) show large effect sizes ie these medications show significant symptom improvement/ global improvement. Do stimulants improve the functional outcomes as well? 

Craig B.H. Surmana, Paul G. Hammerness, Katie Pion and  Stephen V. Faraone  reviewed literature to answer this question.


Two studies used  quality of life tool that was specifically developed for adults with ADHD (AIM-A).Specific functional areas were addressed in 5 studies.Broader quality of life was measured in two other studies.Few studies looked into role functioning as well.

There are only few studies about the specific impact of stimulant treatment on functional outcomes of adults with ADHD.Two placebo-controlled studies (among the five trials with relevant measures)  reported significant improvement in both global function and specific domains of functioning.  Improvements in interpersonal, occupational, academic, and leisure functioning were reported.  Only three studies investigated improvement at 8 months or longer. 

Conclusion: Stimulant therapy for ADHD in adulthood is associated with global and domain-specific functional improvement. Studies of longer duration with validated tools is required to make conclusions regarding longterm benefits.

Summary of the article:

Do stimulants improve functioning in adults with ADHD?: A review of the literature.

Surman CB, Hammerness PG, Pion K, Faraone SV. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 Jun;23(6):528-33.

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