Willingness to Use ADHD Self-Management: Mixed Methods Study of Perceptions by Adolescents and Parents

Regina Bussing, Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, Tina Gurnani, Cynthia Wilson Garvan, Dana Mason, Kenji Noguchi, Dolores Albarracin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known about perceptions surrounding self-management for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although such interventions appear commonly used and are considered essential components of the chronic care model. Our research is part of a mixed methods study that followed students at high and low risk for ADHD over 11 years. During the final study years, area-representative samples of 148 adolescents (54.8 % participation; 97 ADHD high-risk group; 51 low-risk peers) and 161 parents (59.4 % participation; 108 parents of high-risk adolescent; 53 parents of low-risk peer) completed a cross-sectional survey on community-identified self-management interventions for ADHD (activity outlets, sleep regulation, dietary restriction, homework help, family rules, and prayer). Respondents also answered open-ended questions addressing undesirable self-management effects, which were analyzed using grounded theory methods. High-risk adolescents expressed significantly lower willingness towards all self-management interventions than did adult respondents, except for increased activity outlets. They also reported lower receptivity towards sleep regulation and dietary restriction than did their low-risk peer group. No gender or race differences in self-management willingness were found, except for higher receptivity to prayer in African American respondents. Cost, perceived ineffectiveness, disruptions to routines, causation of interpersonal conflicts, and reduced future self-reliance were seen as potential undesirable effects. Findings suggest that activity-based ADHD interventions appear particularly acceptable across all demographic and risk groups, unlike sleep regulation and dietary approaches. Further research on self-care effectiveness is needed to incorporate adolescents’ viewpoints about ADHD self-management, as interventions may be acceptable to adults, but resisted by adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-573
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Barriers to evidence-based treatment
  • Intervention willingness
  • Mixed methods research
  • Perceptions
  • Side effect perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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