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It is estimated that a large percentage of patients with ADHD do not adhere to their medication. This study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined ADHD medication adherence during the transition from adolescence to adulthood and its association with adverse medical outcomes.

The study assessed ADHD medication adherence and any ADHD medication use in patients with ADHD between the ages of 17 and 19 years old. In the initial cohort of 17-year-old patients, 36.7% of the patients were adherent to their ADHD medication. As the cohort aged into adulthood, adherence declined to 19.1% by age 19. 

While there was no significant difference in adherence for the 17-year-old patients, female patients between the ages of 18 and 19 were more adherent to their medication than their male counterparts. Moreover, regardless of age, racial/ethnic minority patients and those with lower estimated income were less likely to adhere to their medication. Finally, ADHD medication use and medication adherence were associated with fewer adverse medical outcomes in female patients, including fewer STIs, pregnancies, and emergency visits. 

The researchers concluded that late adolescence is associated with significant nonadherence to ADHD medication. Furthermore, they concluded that ADHD medication adherence is associated with fewer adverse health outcomes in young adult females with ADHD. A call to action is made for more research on barriers to ADHD medication adherence in late adolescence, especially for minority and low-income populations, to improve overall health outcomes for young adults with ADHD [1]. 


[1] Rao, K., Carpenter, D. M., & Campbell, C. I. (2021). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication adherence in the transition to adulthood: associated adverse outcomes for females and other disparities. Journal of Adolescent Health, 69(5), 806–814. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.04.025

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