ADHD in a representative sample of the Brazilian population: Estimated prevalence and comparative adequacy of criteria between adolescents and adults according to the item response theory

Guilherme Polanczyk, Ronaldo Laranjeira, Marcos Zaleski, Ilana Pinsky, Raul Caetano, Luis Augusto Rohde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


Background: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a clinically significant disorder in adulthood, but current diagnostic criteria and instruments do not seem to adequately capture the complexity of the disorder in this developmental phase. Accordingly, there are limited data on the proportion of adults affected by the disorder, specially in developing countries. Method: We assessed a representative household sample of the Brazilian population for ADHD with the Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS) Screener, and evaluated the instrument according to the Rasch model of item response theory. Results: The sample was comprised by 3007 individuals, and the overal prevalence of positive screeners for ADHD was 5.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 4.8-7.0]. Rasch analyses revealed the misfitt of the overall sample to expectations of the model. The evaluation of the sample stratified by age revealed that data foiadolescents showed a signficant fittnes to the model expectations, while items completed by adults were not adequated. Conclusions: The lack of fitness to the model for adult respondents challenges the possibility of a linear transformation of the ordinal data into interval measures and the utilization of parametric analyses of data. This result suggests that diagnostic criteria and instruments for adult ADHD must take into account a developmental perspective. Moreover, it calls for further evaluation of currently employed research methods in light of modern theories of psychometrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010



  • Adult
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Who asrs screener

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this