ADHD rating scale

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The ADHD Rating Scale (ADHD-RS) is a parent-report or teacher-report inventory created by George J. DuPaul, Thomas J. Power, Arthur D. Anastopoulos, and Robert Reid[1] consisting of 18–90 questions regarding a child's behavior over the past 6 months.[1] The ADHD Rating Scale is used to aid in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children ranging from ages 5–17.[1]

The ADHD-RS is currently in its fifth version in correlation with the DSM-5.


The ADHD-RS, is an 18-question self-report assessment that takes about five minutes to complete.[1] Each question measures the frequency of the behavior, in which the respondent is asked to indicate whether the behavior occurs "always or very often", "often", "somewhat", or "rarely or never". The questionnaire is intended to be filled out by parents and teachers of the child or adolescent.[1] The first nine items ask questions about behavior related to inattention (e.g., "has difficulty organizing task and activities"). The second set of nine items ask questions about behavior related to symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity (e.g., "talks excessively"). The last question asks if the behaviors were present before age seven. Some examples of ADHD behaviors that are measured by the scale includes; difficulty to focus on tasks, organizing, or not being able to pay attention, squirming, fidgeting, always impatient, can't wait for their turn, and often interrupting others. The ADHD Rating scale has impacted the world of clinical psychology by providing an accurate and valid measure that is able to identify the presence of ADHD in children.[2] It is also helpful in identifying the subtype (predominantly Inattentive, predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined) of the disorder.[2]

Development and history[edit]

Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders found in children. Children with ADHD are at an increased risk for poor scholastic performance, problems with personal conduct, and maintaining social relationships.[1][3]

The ADHD-RS was created to address the need for an effective evaluation for children and adolescents that are suspected of having ADHD, especially given the disorder's prevalence.[1] The assessment also serves an additional purpose of matching parent and teacher observations of ADHD symptoms to DSM-IV criteria of ADHD.[4]

DSM-IV outlines three subtypes of ADHD: ADHD combined type, ADHD predominantly inattentive, and ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive. The ADHD-RS separates domain scores of "Inattention" and "Hyperactivity-Impulsivity" which ultimately results in three scores for "Inattention," Hyperactivity-Impulsivity", and "Total".[4] DSM-IV also organizes diagnostic criteria into two categories of Inattention and Hyperactivity-Impulsivity, each of which includes nine symptoms.[1] The eighteen questions of the ADHD-RS were written to reflect each symptom of both categories.[1]

With the release of DSM-V, the questionnaire was adjusted to be in line with the new criteria established.

Questionnaire versions[edit]

The four versions ask age-appropriate questions about hyperactivity and inattention in specific settings.[1]

There are two home versions — Child (ages 5–10) and Adolescent (ages 11–17). These are intended to be completed at home by a parent or guardian. The questions are specific to situations and activities in the home setting.[1]
There are two school versions — Child (ages 5–10) and Adolescent (ages 11–17). These are intended to be completed at school by a teacher. The questions are specific to situations and activities in the school setting, such as staying in ones seat or completing schoolwork.[1]

Reliability and validity[edit]


Rubric for evaluating norms and reliability for the ADHD Rating Scale[a]
Criterion Rating (adequate, good, excellent, too good[b]) Explanation with references
Norms Adequate
Internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha, split half, etc.) Excellent Alphas were > .90 for the School and Home versions.[1]
Inter-rater reliability Less than adequate reliability between parents and teachers was =.41[1]
Test-retest reliability (stability) Adequate Total score =.85 over a 4-week period[1]
Repeatability Not published No published studies formally checking repeatability


Evaluation of validity and utility for the ADHD Rating Scale[a]
Criterion Rating (adequate, good, excellent, too good[b]) Explanation with references
Content validity Adequate Covers DSM diagnostic symptoms for both hyperactivity and impulsivity subtypes and combined type.[1]
Construct validity (e.g., predictive, concurrent, convergent, and discriminant validity) Excellent In the clinical setting the predictive validity for the combined subscale for parents and teachers were 60% and 65% accuracy, respectively. This indicates that the assessment has statistically significant accuracy at identifying the diagnosis.[4]
Discriminative validity Adequate Statistically significant discrimination in mean rating between three groups of participants that identified as ADHD Combined, ADHD Inattentive and no ADHD.[4]
Validity generalization Good Used as other-report from both teachers and parents; used in school settings as well as clinical setting; assessment was normed on a random sample of the population that included many different ethnic and demographic backgrounds.[4]
Treatment sensitivity Adequate Can be used in order to access progression of ADHD symptoms throughout treatment.[4]
Clinical utility Good Easily accessible through the purchase of the handbook that includes the assessment and scoring information with permission to photocopy, strong psychometrics. Completion and scoring are quick and easy.[1]
  1. ^ a b Table from Youngstrom et al.,[full citation needed] extending Hunsley & Mash, 2008.[5][pages needed]
  2. ^ a b New construct or category.


The ADHD Rating Scale has provided a quick and easy assessment for clinicians to use in order to diagnose ADHD according to the DSM criteria.[1] The creation of this assessment also provided a consistent way for clinicians to diagnose ADHD in children. This assessment is used in both clinical and school settings to measure presence of ADHD as well as the subtype that may be present.[1] The measure can also be used to measure the presence and continuation of symptoms throughout treatment.[3] This assessment has also been used as the basis for studies covering a wide variety of topics related to ADHD.[6]

Use in other populations[edit]

ADHD Rating Scale-IV[edit]

The ADHD RS- IV is widely used in the U.S. in English; however, because of the increasing population of Latino-Americans in the U.S., the ADHD Rating Scale was also translated into Spanish to accommodate those speaking Spanish as their first language.[1] Also, many other countries have already translated and validated the ADHD scale into their primary spoken language. According to the Archives of Clinical Psychiatry in Sao Paulo, Vol.33, N.4 the (TDAH, Portuguese abbreviation)[7] was fully validated in Brazil by the end of 2006.


Ratings of ADHD symptoms on rating scales in general are subjective. Teachers and parents may use different subjective criteria to define symptoms, and may not take context of symptoms into account when making ratings.[3] Furthermore, the validity of the ARS is acceptable,[1] but the normative sample used to calculate this statistic was composed of children aged 5 to 14, and thus it cannot be generalized beyond age range.[4]

According to an accuracy study performed Pediatrics Association in 2016, from all scales they examined the ASQ is the most effective scale that can be used to diagnose the disease, due to its high brevity and high diagnostic accuracy.[8] A Manual called "Conners Comprehensive Rating scales" released in 2017 states that results from discriminative validity analysis showed that the accuracy of the scores to be at 78% across all forms used to diagnose the disease.[9]

There are also questions about how well items on the ARS follow explicit DSM criteria. Specifically, one of the hyperactivity items does not specify that in adolescents, thoughts of restlessness are sufficient, rather than excessive behavioral movement. This lack of specification does not map directly onto DSM criteria.[4]

This assessment can be accessed by purchasing the ADHD Rating Scale handbook, which includes copies of the Teacher and Parent versions with permission to photocopy for clinical use.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u DuPaul, G. J.; Power, T. J.; Anastopoulos, A. D.; Reid, R. (1998). ADHD Rating Scale-IV: Checklists, norms, and clinical interpretation. New York: Guilford. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Taylor, Abigail; Deb, Shoumitro; Unwin, Gemma (February 12, 2011). "Scales for the identification of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A systematic review". Research in Developmental Disabilities. 32 (3): 924–38. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2010.12.036. PMID 21316190.
  3. ^ a b c Smith, B.H.; Barkley, R.A.; Shapiro, C.J. (2007). "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder". In Mash, Eric J.; Barkley, Russell A. (eds.). Assessment of Childhood Disorders (4th ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press. pp. 53–131. ISBN 978-1593854935.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Dupaul, George; Power, Thomas; Anastopoulos, Arthur; Reid, Robert (1998). "ADHD Rating Scale-IV". The fifteenth mental measurements yearbook. New York, NY: Guilford Publications, Inc – via EBSCOhost.
  5. ^ Hunsley, John; Mash, Eric (2008). A Guide to Assessments that Work. New York, NY: Oxford Press. ISBN 978-0195310641.
  6. ^ Weisler, Richard H.; Adler, Lenard A.; Kollins, Scott H.; Goodman, David W.; Hamdani, Mohamed; Dirks, Bryan; Childress, Ann C. (2013-12-09). "Analysis of individual items on the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom rating scale in children and adults: the effects of age and sex in pivotal trials of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate". Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 10: 1–12. doi:10.2147/NDT.S47087. PMC 3862743. PMID 24363557.
  7. ^ Mattos, Paulo; Segenreich, Daniel; Saboya, Eloísa; Louzã, Mário; Dias, Gabriela; Romano, Marcos (2006). "Adaptação transcultural para o português da escala Adult Self-Report Scale para avaliação do transtorno de déficit de atenção/hiperatividade (TDAH) em adultos". Archives of Clinical Psychiatry (São Paulo) (in Portuguese). 33 (4): 188–194. doi:10.1590/S0101-60832006000400004. ISSN 0101-6083.
  8. ^ Chang, Ling-Yin; Wang, Mei-Yeh; Tsai, Pei-Shan (2016-03-01). "Diagnostic Accuracy of Rating Scales for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Meta-analysis". Pediatrics. 137 (3): e20152749. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-2749. ISSN 0031-4005. PMID 26928969.
  9. ^ "Conners CBRS 2017". Retrieved 2019-12-10.

External links[edit]