The Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS) is one of the largest long-term studies in the history of ADHD research.
The researchers are follow children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), through adolescence and all the way into adulthood.
The lead investigators are Drs. Brooke Molina and Sarah Pedersen, University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. William E. Pelham, Jr., Florida International University — but many other investigators have provided their expertise and support over the years.
Since 1999 the study, funded by NIAAA, has been following approximately 400 individuals diagnosed with ADHD in childhood who received treatment through the Children’s Summer Day Treatment Program for ADHD in Pittsburgh (Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh).
An additional 240 individuals without ADHD are also participating for comparison purposes.
The purpose of the study is to learn more about the development of children diagnosed with ADHD in the 1980s and 1990s and to answer major questions in the field about factors that affect long-term course.
Researchers study educational and occupational functioning, social and family relations, drug and alcohol use, and the extent to which childhood problems may or may not have persisted into adolescence and young adulthood.
A unique feature of the study is the ability to answer questions about healthy functioning in adulthood as a function of childhood characteristics, such as severity of problems in childhood or treatment history.
In 2020, the study was funded for an additional five years, and 90% of the original participant group remain involved.
As the study participants age through their 30s and into their early 40s, researchers will be able to examine the degree to which experiences related to ADHD in adolescence and early adulthood continue, as employment and family responsibilities increase.
Individuals participate in two assessments, spaced two years apart.
“In addition to our standard surveys that assess many domains of functioning, we have added an innovative brief cellphone-based assessment that participants will complete throughout the day for 10 days,” the researchers said.
” Combining these new methods is a novel approach that will allow us to better understand long-term functioning and in-the-moment experiences that contribute to overall outcomes.”