Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Although ADHD is one of the most frequent and commonly researched childhood disorders, few studies have included females in their samples. Whereas many studies that have included both males and females have reported gender differences in ADHD, there are many gaps in our knowledge of these variations by gender. In this research, gender differences on the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA; Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) Attention Problems syndrome were examined in large demographically-matched referred and non-referred samples of 6- to 18- year olds. Specifically, the research examined the degree to which informant, age, and referral status influenced the prevalence rate of Attention Problems and the problems and competence deficits associated with Attention Problems.
Results indicated major informant effects on Attention Problems scores. Whereas parents and teachers rated males as having significantly higher Attention Problems scores than females, this gender difference was not present when adolescents served as the informants. The likelihood of males versus females being rated in the deviant range on Attention Problems was about 3:1 for teacher report, 2:1 for parent report, and 1:1 for self-report. Attention Problems items discriminated between males and females when parents and teachers reported the behaviors, and they were always in the direction of males having higher scores than females. With self-reports, fewer items discriminated between males and females. Furthermore, males had significantly higher scores on some items, whereas females had significantly higher scores on other items. Additionally, the results suggested that females with significant Attention Problems had the same associated problem behaviors and low competence as males. This pattern was evident for all three informants. The prevalence rate of Attention Problems and the associations with Attention Problems were not moderated by age or referral status.
The data suggested that parents and teachers may not be fully aware of Attention Problems being experienced by females. This highlights the importance of including self-reports when diagnosing Attention Problems. Improving the ability to detect Attention Problems in females becomes particularly crucial, since these results indicated that females with this disorder ‘suffer’ just as much as males, as evidenced by the similar association patterns with other problem behaviors and with competence deficits.
Leren, Kristin. "Gender Differences in Rate and Associations of Attention Problems: Effects of Informant, Age, and Referral Status." PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2008.