Rates and Patterns of Comorbidity Among First-Year College Students With ADHD

Document Type


Date of Original Version



The purpose of this study was to examine rates and patterns of non–attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (non-ADHD) psychiatric diagnoses among a large group of 1st-year college students with and without ADHD. A total of 443 participants, including 214 men and 229 women ranging in age from 18 to 22 years of age (M = 18.2), were recruited from 9 colleges involved in a large-scale, multisite longitudinal investigation. Non-Hispanic Caucasian students represented 67.5% of the total sample. A comprehensive multimethod assessment approach was used in conjunction with expert panel review to determine both ADHD and comorbidity status. Significantly higher rates of overall comorbidity were found among college students with well-defined ADHD, with 55.0% exhibiting at least one comorbid diagnosis and 31.8% displaying two or more, relative to the corresponding rates of non-ADHD diagnoses among Comparison students, which were 11.2% and 4.0%, respectively. These differences in overall comorbidity rates were, in large part, attributable to the increased presence of depressive and anxiety disorders, especially major depressive disorder (active or in partial remission) and generalized anxiety disorder, among the students with ADHD. Within the ADHD group, differential comorbidity rates were observed as a function of ADHD presentation type and gender but not ethnic/racial diversity status. The current findings fill a gap in the literature and shed new light on the rates and patterns of comorbidity among emerging adults with ADHD in their 1st year of college. Implications for providing clinical and support services to college students with ADHD are discussed.

Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology