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NIH Grant Supports First Study on How ADHD Affects College Students

George DuPaul, professor of school psychology at Lehigh University, is helping to conduct the first-ever study on how attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects college students, both during and after their college years. 

Starting this summer, groups of 210 first-year college students will be recruited in two consecutive years for the study from colleges in North Carolina, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. The study’s results will raise understanding of the natural course of ADHD among college students and identify potential targets for assessment and intervention. The data can help to increase the probability that students with ADHD will succeed and graduate from college, thereby impacting their long-term chances for financial stability and positive mental health.

The study, supported by a five-year grant of approximately $3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recognizes that as increasing numbers of young adults with ADHD attend college, there are few guidelines for clinically managing the condition on college campuses.Results of a recent national survey of first-year college students found that 5 percent reported having ADHD.

With the aim of developdeveloping practices for assessment and treatment that can be used on campuses, the five-year study will explore how ADHD impacts the educational, cognitive, psychological, social and vocational functioning of college students.

“One of the unique and important features of our project is that we will be getting real time information about students' academic and social activities through electronic means, as opposed to solely relying on surveys and questionnaires completed after the fact,” DuPaul said. “This will give us specific information about how individuals with ADHD respond to the daily challenges of college life and how they differ in this respect from their non-ADHD peers.”

Late last year, DuPaul’s research showed that college students with ADHD who take a pro-stimulant medication can improve attention, organization and planning skills. It was the first study to look at the medical treatment of ADHD among college students.

For the NIH-funded study, he’s joining Lehigh’s Assistant Dean of Academic Support Services Cheryl Ashcroft, as well as psychologist Lisa L. Weyandt of the University of Rhode Island (URI), along with  and psychologist Arthur D. Anastopoulos of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).

“The findings from this study will be invaluable to our coaching model with college students who are diagnosed with ADHD,” Ashcroft said. “There is very little research with this specific population which makes this study so exciting.”

College students will be recruited for the study from UNCG, Guilford College, High Point University, URI, Brown University, Rhode Island College, Lehigh, Muhlenberg College, Cedar Crest College and Moravian College.

The study’s results will raise understanding of the natural course of ADHD among college students and identify potential targets for assessment and intervention. The data can help to increase the probability that students with ADHD will succeed and graduate from college, thereby impacting their long-term chances for financial stability and positive mental health.

Story by Sally Gilotti

Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012

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