Category: ADHD - Child
Recent research on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has examined the role of emotional dysregulation in ADHD. For example, Shaw et al. (2014) reported that 25 to 50% of children with ADHD experience emotion dysregulation, and emotion dysregulation has been shown to affect comorbidity patterns and functional impairments in those with ADHD (Anastopoulos et al., 2011; Bunford et al. 2015; Seymour et al., 2011). Studies have also begun to examine whether emotion dysregulation mediates the relationship between ADHD and important functional outcomes such as social functioning. For example, Bunford and colleagues (2015) found that emotion regulation mediated the relationship between ADHD and social skills.
The current study aimed to contribute to this research area by examining whether emotion dysregulation mediates the relationship between ADHD and social functioning in children between the ages of 7 to 13 (M = 9.49; SD = 1.85) from a community sample (n = 38). Youth were recruited in the context of a study examining electroencephalograpy (EEG) differences between those with and without ADHD. Children were included in the ADHD group if their parent reported clinically significant symptoms of ADHD on the Vanderbilt ADHD Rating Scale, Parent Version (VARS-P). Youth without ADHD were required to have fewer than 3 symptoms of ADHD on the VARS-P and no history of psychiatric diagnosis. Parents also completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 2001) and the Emotion Regulation Checklist(ERC; Shields & Cicchetti, 1997). For the current study, ADHD group status (0 = control, 1 = ADHD), the CBCL Social Problems T-score and the ERC total score were used for analyses. Correlations revealed significant positive relationships between ADHD status and emotion dysregulation (r =.80), ADHD status and social problems (r = .61), and emotion dysregulation and social problems (r= .73). Mediation analyses were conducted via the PROCESS macro for SPSS, an approach that uses bootstrapping in the examination of total, direct, and indirect effects. Mediation analyses controlled for age and gender. Results of the mediation model indicated a significant total effect (B = 3.90; 95% CI = 2.36, 5.43; p < .05) and a significant indirect effect (B= 3.08, 95% CI = .81, 5.83; p < .05). The direct effect was nonsignificant (B = .82; 95% CI = -1.38, 3.01; p > .05). The findings from this study suggest that the relationship between ADHD and social functioning is mediated by problems with emotional dysregulation. Future research should aim to clarify how emotion dysregulation interacts with ADHD and other co-occurring symptomatology to effect functional outcomes. The current results may suggest that it is important to target emotion regulation in treatment when children are experiencing social problems, and this seems to be particularly true in the context of treating children with ADHD. From a preventative standpoint, future research investigating whether early education on emotion regulation strategies alters the trajectory of ADHD and other psychopathology could have significant clinical implications.