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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 8, 499 - 508

New research

The prevalence of ADHD in the Belgian general adult population: an epidemiological explanatory study

T. De Ridder, R. Bruffaerts, M. Danckaerts, A. Bonnewyn, K. Demyttenaere

Background Despite growing interest in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders (adhd) in adults in Belgium, little is known about its prevalence in the Belgian general population.
Aim To estimate the prevalence of adhd in adults (aged 18 to 44) in Belgium, to study its comorbidity with other mental disorders and its impact on daily living and to find out the extent to which professional help is sought.
Method A representative sample (n = 486) taken from the Belgian population was studied by means of an adhd screening questionnaire which is included in the third version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
Results The prevalence of adhd in adults in the Belgian population was estimated to be 4.1%. The disorder started in early childhood (median age 7 years) and developed fastest between the ages of 7 and 9. adhd was comorbid with anxiety disorders (adjusted odds ratio: 7.5; 95% ci: 1.2-45.2) and alcohol-related disorders (adjusted odds ratio: 7.6; 95% ci: 1.1-52.5), and results in a suboptimal daily functioning on about 7.7 days a month. Only one person in five had sought professional help in the 12 month period prior to the screening test.
Conclusion This is the first study to estimate the prevalence of adhd in adults in Belgium. adhd is a relatively frequent disorder that starts early in life, and has a considerable impact on the way in which an individual functions in daily life. In spite of this, few persons with this disorder seek professional help.

keywords ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Belgian population, epidemiology, impact