Trait anxiety as a mediator of the association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptom severity and functional impairment
Yunhye Oh 1, 2, Yoon Hee Joon 1, Ji-Hae Kim 1, Yoo-Sook Joung 1*
1Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea, 2Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Mental Health, Seoul, Korea
Received: May 4, 2017; Revised: August 22, 2017; Accepted: August 26, 2017; Published online: August 26, 2017.
© The Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Background: Anxiety has been shown to influence functional impairment in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to compare functional impairment in subjects with and without adult ADHD and to investigate the associations among trait anxiety, functional impairment, and ADHD symptom severity. Moreover, the effects of ADHD symptom subtypes on trait anxiety and functional impairment were also examined.
Methods: The sample included 209 adults between the ages of 20 and 31 years. Fifty-one adults received a diagnosis of ADHD, and an additional age, sex-matched group of 51 adults comprised the adult control. Participants were assessed with Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales (CAARS), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Spielberg Trait Anxiety Index (STAI-T), and the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS). The relationships among ADHD severity, anxiety, and functional impairment were investigated using Pearson’s correlation analysis. Subtypes of ADHD symptoms that predicted anxiety and functional impairment were investigated using regression analyses.
Results: Adult ADHD patients significantly differed from normal control subjects according to BDI, STAI-T, and SDS assessment. Significant positive correlations were noted between ADHD severity, anxiety, and functional impairment. Multiple linear regression analysis confirmed anxiety as a mediator between functional impairment and ADHD CAARS symptom subscales.
Conclusion: Patients with adult ADHD showed higher levels of anxiety, depression, and functional impairment. Additionally, ADHD symptoms and anxiety impacted subject functional impairment. Our results suggest that anxiety may be a strong mediator between ADHD severity and functional impairment.
Keywords: Adult ADHD, ADHD comorbidity, functional impairment, trait anxiety