Risk of accidents and unintentional injuries in men and women with ADHD

By Scott Cunningham, MD, PhD
Published December 5, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Attention-deficit/hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD) has a lifelong increased risk of accidents; the risk is decreased in patients who are prescribed psycholeptics and stimulants.

Putting It Into Practice

Whether the increased risk of accidents and unintentional injuries reflects the core symptoms of ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity), co-morbidities (substance abuse, depression, sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue, anxiety, and psychosocial stress) and/or internal and external distraction.

Given the decreased productivity, life expectancy, and quality of life among patients with ADHD associated with accidents and unintentional injuries, at least in part, development and implementation of accident prevention strategies are warranted.

Why this study matters

It has been reported that children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD are at increased risk for accidents and unintentional injuries. Moreover, individuals with ADHD have an increased mortality rate due to unnatural causes.

The current study extended what is known about ADHD and accidents/unintentional injuries in adolescents and young adults throughout adulthood.

Study design

German claims involving 4,575,027 adults diagnosed with ADHD were the source of data for this study. The risk of accidents and unintentional injuries (“incidents”) was determined as a function of gender and age.

Results and conclusion

Men and women with ADHD are at increased risk for mild (outpatient treatment) and severe incidents (inpatient treatment) throughout adulthood in the form of a U-shaped curve (i.e., the risk is greatest in young and older adults). Women with ADHD were at greatest risk for mild incidents.

Patients with ADHD who were prescribed psycholeptics and stimulants were at decreased risk for incidents.

Original Source

Libutzki B, Neukirch B, Kittel-Schneider S. Risk of accidents and unintentional injuries in men and women with ADHD across the adult lifespan. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 2022; doi.org/10.1111/acps.13524.

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