Category: ADHD - Adult

PS3- #A31 - Could Extracurricular Activity Buffer Negative Adjustment in College Students With ADHD?

Friday, Nov 17
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: ADHD - Adult | College Students | Risk / Vulnerability Factors

College students with ADHD are less likely to graduate and to have other negative academic outcomes (DuPaul, Weyandt, O’Dell, & Varejao, 2009) and report elevated levels of psychological distress (Gray, Fetts, Woltering, Mawjee, & Tannock, 2016). In adolescents, extracurricular activity (EA) behavior has correlated with higher academic achievement, college attendance, and college graduation (Bradley & Conway, 2016; Eccles, Barber, Stone, & Hunt., 2003; Hughes, Cao, & Kwok, 2016). Further, participating in EAs is associated with improved student confidence, learning strategies and achievement in community college students (Chan, 2016). In sum, EAs may facilitate better adjustment in school, but to the authors’ knowledge this has not been examined in college students with ADHD, which is the aim of the current study.

Participants were 478 undergraduates (M age = 19.6 years, 75% female, 91% Caucasian) from a mid-sized, public university in the Southeast, recruited via the psychology department subject pool, who received course credit for participating.  Online measures included self-reported current ADHD (Barkley & Murphy, 2006) and internalizing symptoms (DASS-21; Henry & Crawford, 2005), social support (Vaux et al., 1986), demographic variables (e.g., GPA), and EA involvement.  The latter included behavioral details such as number of hours of involvement per week per activity, attendance at meetings and leadership roles, which was used to calculate an extracurricular involvement index (EII; Winston & Massaro, 1987).

Independent variables (IVs) in this study were the EII and total current ADHD symptoms, with social support (total, friends, family, other), internalizing (anxiety, stress, depression), and academic (GPA) dependent variables (DVs). Pearson correlations suggested associations between ADHD and the DVs in expected directions (ps< .01), with narrower links between the EII and DVs (total, friends, other social support, ps < .05). Regressions showed ADHD symptoms to significantly predict social support (bs -.23 to -.33, p < .001), GPA (b = -.19, p < .001), and internalizing symptoms (bs .41 to .53, p < .001). The EII emerged as an independent predictor only for total and other social support (b = .11 and .13, p < .05), marginally predicting friends’ social support (b = .09, p = .09).  No EII x ADHD effects were detected.

These results agree with prior findings of impaired adjustment in college related to ADHD and preliminarily suggest that EI might have a modest buffering effect for social maladjustment in undergraduates with ADHD, which has not been previously demonstrated. EA involvement might be explored as a relatively easy behavioral adjunct to other formal intervention with this population.  More detailed analysis and limitations will be provided.

Zach Saint

Appalachian State University

Will H. Canu

Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina