Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale

One of the most common tools used to screen for ADHD is the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale. The Self-Report scale was developed in 2005 by researchers from NYU and Harvard Medical School working with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Self-Report Scale questionnaire is short and easy to take. It consists of six questions, each of which you are supposed to answer with “Never,” “Rarely,” “Sometimes,” “Often” or “Very Often.” In version 1.1, the six questions are:

  1. How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
  2. How often do you have trouble getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
  3. How often do you have problems remembering appointments and obligations?
  4. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
  5. How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
  6. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?

The key is to count how many times you answered “sometimes,” “often” or “very often” to the first three questions, and how many times you answered either “often” or “very often” to the last three questions. If you met the threshold for at least four questions, that’s an indication that you may have symptoms of ADHD.

In the original research on the ADHD Self-Report Scale, it was tested on 158 people. It correctly spotted about two-thirds of the people with ADHD, and of the people it identified as having ADHD, almost all of them (99.5 percent) really did have ADHD.

In other words, although it’s a pretty reliable indicator of ADHD symptoms, it does have some false negatives, so even if you don’t meet the threshold, that in itself isn’t definitive evidence that you don’t have ADHD. Conversely, if you do meet the Self-Report Scale’s threshold, that’s a strong signal that learning more about ADHD and talking to a medical professional is warranted.

The ADHD Self-Report Scale is a classic ADHD questionnaire for a reason. It’s short, it covers several different kinds of ADHD symptoms, and its fairly accurate. Many people with undiagnosed ADHD have had their “aha” moment when they read through the test and wonder: why did the World Health Organization decide to write a description of me?

One nice bonus of the Self-Report Scale is that it’s freely available in languages ranging from Arabic to Urdu  which makes sense, seeing as it was developed by the World Health Organization, after all! To download PDFs of these versions in other languages, visit the National Comorbidity Survey website from Harvard Medical School.

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