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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders in adult psychiatric patients

Participants: Lena Nylander, Maria Holmqvist, Sven Jönsson, Lars Gustafson & Christopher Gillberg.

Background: Knowledge about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in adult psychiatry is scant.

Methods: Two adult psychiatric out-patient groups were screened and examined for ADHD and ASD, respectively. A group of adults, clinically evaluated for ADHD and ASD, and their significant others were asked about the impact of receiving these diagnoses in adulthood. A data-set of all registered psychiatric patients at one clinic over a 20-year period was used to assess time trends in clinical diagnoses of ADHD and ASD, as well as “comorbidities” and psychiatric service use.

Results: The rate of ASD in all screened adult psychiatric out-patients (n = 1323) was 1.4%. Most of these were treated at a centre for chronic disorders, where the prevalence was 3.2%. The rate of ADHD in the screened group of out-patients in general psychiatry was 21.9%. The most common concomitant diagnosis was affective disorder. Perceived positive post-diagnosis change was reported by patients and significant others, with a greater subjective impact for patients with ADHD than ASD. From 1990 to 2009 the rate of ADHD diagnoses increased steadily, but only up to 2.7% of all registered patients in 2009. ASD diagnoses also went up to 1.3% in 2009. 60% of the patients in each group had at least one other psychiatric diagnosis.


Nylander, L., Holmqvist, M., Gustafson, L., & Gillberg, C. (2013). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adult psychiatry. A 20-year register study. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 67, 344-350.

Nylander, L., Holmqvist, M., Jönsson, S., Gustafson, L., & Gillberg, C. (2010). Is it possible to measure the impact of a developmental disorder diagnosis received in adulthood? An attempt at follow-up, and discussion of difficulties encountered in the process. Clinical Audit, 2, 127-136.

Nylander, L., Holmqvist, M., Gustafson, L., & Gillberg, C. (2009). ADHD in adult psychiatry. Minimum rates and clinical presentations in general psychiatry outpatients. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 1, 64-71.

Nylander, L., & Gillberg, C. (2001). Screening for autism spectrum disorders in adult psychiatric out-patients: a preliminary report. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 103, 428-434.


Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 3/17/2014

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