Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Childhood and adolescent hyperactivity-inattention symptoms and academic achievement 8 years later: the GAZEL Youth study

C. Galéraa1a2 c1, M. Melchiora3, J.-F. Chastanga3, M.-P. Bouvarda1 and E. Fombonnea4

a1 Child Psychiatry Department, Charles Perrens Hospital, University Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux, France

a2 INSERM, U897, Equipe Avenir Prévention et prise en charge des traumatismes, Centre de Recherche Epidémiologie et Biostatistique, Bordeaux, France

a3 INSERM, U687; Université Paris XI, IFR69, Villejuif, France

a4 McGill University, Montreal Children's Hospital, Child Psychiatry, Montreal, Canada


Background Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at risk of negative academic outcomes. However, relatively few studies in this area have been based on long-term longitudinal designs and community-based settings. This study examined the link between childhood hyperactivity-inattention symptoms (HI-s) and subsequent academic achievement in a community setting, controlling for other behavioural symptoms, socio-economic status (SES) and environmental factors at baseline.

Method The sample consisted of 1264 subjects (aged 12 to 26 years at follow-up) recruited from the longitudinal GAZEL Youth study. Psychopathology, environmental variables and academic outcomes were measured through self-reports. Multivariate modelling was performed to evaluate the effects of childhood HI-s and other risk factors on academic achievement 8 years later.

Results HI-s independently predicted grade retention [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 3.58, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.38–5.39], failure to graduate from secondary school (adjusted OR 2.41, 95% CI 1.43–4.05), obtaining a lower-level diploma (adjusted OR 3.00, 95% CI 1.84–4.89), and lower academic performance. These results remained significant even after accounting for school difficulties at baseline. Negative academic outcomes were also significantly associated with childhood symptoms of conduct disorder (CD), even after accounting for adjustment variables.

Conclusions This longitudinal survey replicates, in a general population-based setting, the finding of a link between HI-s and negative academic outcomes.

(Received September 09 2008)

(Revised January 12 2009)

(Accepted February 02 2009)

(Online publication April 01 2009)