person holding a sign with adhd written in different colours

Developing a Needs Assessment Plan for Self-Management of Adult ADHD

Project team

Dr Samantha Clarke

Dr Sarah Kate Merry

Dr James Shutterworth



Project overview

Referred to as the ‘hidden epidemic’, an unprecedented number of adults are self-identifying or are being formally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) across the UK. New research and awareness of ADHD symptoms outside of the socially recognised ‘physical hyperactivity’ presentations of the condition, has led to adults being ‘missed’ in childhood or mis-diagnosed with anxiety and depression throughout life, until self-recognising and pursuing assessment. Once identified or formally diagnosed, many adults struggle to come to terms with a late-stage diagnosis, citing feelings of lost time, childhood trauma and misunderstandings concerning their behaviours throughout their lifetime.

Whilst formal diagnosis helps to contextualise these behaviours and gives access to medication to help manage symptoms, there is an unprecedented waiting time to access a psychiatrist in the UK, affecting NHS and private health care organisations to severely delay the assessment or accessing clinical support. A large number of adults are being left without access to professional medical support and are turning to community and social media sites for community help. Whilst social media sites have helped drive awareness of ADHD and provides instant access to community-driven support, those seeking guidance risk accessing mis-informed and toxic discussion forums. Furthermore, the suggested pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD is unsuitable for many adults, with high risks/ side effects of ADHD stimulant medication. There is a need to develop understanding and easy access to adult-focused psychosocial interventions targeting self-management practices of the condition.

The project directly engages the public, policymakers, charity organisations and medical practitioners to understand the effect of late-stage ADHD self-identification and diagnosis in adulthood, and to explore community experiences, needs and requirements for non-pharmaceutical interventions for ADHD symptom self-management.

Project objectives

The overall aim of the project is to understand the experiences, struggles and strengths of self-identifying and late-diagnosis adults with ADHD in the UK, to inform considerations and future policies in which treatment and support is developed. To include:

  • to engage with those with lived experience to explore their experiences of self-identification and diagnosis ADHD in adulthood
  • to understand the ADHD support available to adults and the extent it meets the responsibilities and needs of adulthood
  • to understand experiences of seeking assessment and treatment, including the support and resources offered by Public Health services
  • to co-develop non-pharmaceutical interventions that are easily accessible at any stage of seeking or receiving a diagnosis, are user-appropriate, accessible and clinically informed by health professionals

Impact statement

Reporting on personal experiences of the community, the research intends to identify under-supported areas in the UK and potential non-pharmalogical ADHD interventions for symptom management. The research will inform the design and delivery of services and interventions targeted at adults with ADHD, through open discussion between multiple stakeholders involved in the access, provision and delivery of neurodevelopmental health and assessment services.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023