Guidelines for Adults with ADHD
The American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders (APSARD) announces plans to develop and publish guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in adults. As there are currently no guidelines in the United States, the APSARD guidelines will address this critical need for health care providers, patients, and the public.
Task Force Members
Co-Chair: Thomas Spencer, M.D.
Co-Chair: Frances Levin, M.D.
David Goodman, M.D.
Stephen Faraone, Ph.D.
Lenard Adler, M.D.
Samuele Cortese, M.D., Ph.D.
J. Faye Dixon, Ph.D.
Mariely Hernandez, Ph.D.
J.J. Sandra Kooij, M.D., Ph.D.
Beth Krone, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Newcorn, M.D.
Steven Pliszka, M.D.
Luis Rohde, M.D., Ph.D.
Anthony Rostain, M.D.
Karen Saporito, Ph.D.
Margaret Sibley, Ph.D.
Mary Solanto, Ph.D.
Roberta Waite Ed.D., R.N.
Margaret Weiss, M.D., Ph.D.
Timothy Wilens, M.D.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is APSARD?
APSARD is an organization consisting of a broad spectrum of physicians, psychologists, and allied mental health experts working to improve the quality of care for patients with ADHD through the advancement and dissemination of research and evidence-based practices. APSARD fills unmet education and training needs for healthcare professionals helping patients with ADHD from childhood through adulthood.
Tell me about the adult ADHD guidelines in development...
APSARD's guidelines will rest on a firm foundation of research established by the Adult ADHD Quality Measures Initiative which, for the past five years has developed and tested metrics for the quality care of adults with ADHD. We began this process by reviewing the guidelines literature and convening an expert panel. In 2018, we published 46 metrics for assessing quality care for diagnosing and treating ADHD in adults. In 2022, we completed a project with the American Academy of Family Practitioners (AAFP) which assessed the achievement of the top ten quality measures in electronic health records of 71,310 patients seen in family practice. We found an increase in quality care from 2010 to 2020 along with clear evidence that more efforts are needed to improve quality of care for adults with ADHD seen in primary care.
The findings from the Quality Measures Initiative motivated APSARD to move to the next stage, creating guidelines that will be accessible and useful for the primary care practitioners and mental health specialists who care for ADHD in adults.
Why has APSARD undertaken this now?
With an increasing number of patients seeking an evaluation and treatment for adult ADHD, APSARD has seen a diversity of methods to diagnosis and treat these patients. Some methods are evidence based and some are not. The patients need a set of guidelines that will ensure they receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment based on scientific research. We hope our guidelines will provide a clinical basis to help providers understand what goes into a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation for an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis of ADHD is established then treatment options can be discussed with the patient.
What will be the implications on diagnosis and treatment of adults with ADHD?
We hope that guidance in making an accurate diagnosis of ADHD in adults will lead to more effective treatment options considered by the provider and the patient. Unfortunately, because of diverse training among providers and the setting of patient care (in office or online), diagnosis may not be accurate. This can lead to unnecessary stigma for the patient and the use of ineffective treatments. Education about our guidelines will increase the consistency of clinical training to insure an accurate diagnosis from healthcare providers around the country.
How do you hope these guidelines impact patient care?
APSARD is committed to healthcare provider education around ADHD from childhood to adulthood. For years, we have continued to provide continuing medical education webinars that are available online (ADHDinAdults.com) and an annual conference focused on the state-of-the-art research from the U.S. and around the world.
Our guidelines will be the consolidation of the world’s scientific research on ADHD in adults. Following scientific rigor of analysis, we hope the guidelines will viewed by other professional associations as critical step forward in establishing consistency in the approach to diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD. For patients and families, we hope they can understand what is entailed in a comprehensive evaluation. We want patients to understand how accuracy of diagnosis and effectiveness of treatment can improve the quality of their lives.
What educational programs will be developed for teaching healthcare providers?
As we are just getting started, we anticipate the development of educational programs that highlight the findings in the guidelines. For healthcare providers, we will want to collaborate with our colleagues so that our guidelines are incorporated into patient care. For patients, we will want to convey a general understanding of how to seek a comprehensive evaluation for an accurate diagnosis leading to optimal treatment. Clinicians want to provide the best care they can and patients seek out those clinicians.
Is there collaboration with other professional associations?
APARD anticipates a great deal of interest from many associations. We hope to collaborate with them to expand our reach and disseminate these guidelines. Given a broad range of ADHD providers (physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, social workers, ADHD therapists, etc.), we will reach out to these professional associations and work together on provider education.
Are there other initiatives doing the same thing?
APSARD remains focused on completing its critical contribution to the field of ADHD. We are not aware of any initiative in the U.S.A. that has followed the scientific rigor undertaken by our experts. The publication of Quality Measures (Click Here) was the first step in moving toward these guidelines. There is a follow up to this paper with data showing the change in clinical care for adult ADHD over 10 years. These two research projects now become the foundation for APSARD’s guidelines development initiative. APSARD hopes that other professional associations will appreciate the evidence basis of our guidelines and find them very helpful to their own members.