Attachment Representations in Mothers and Their Children Diagnosed with ADHD: Distribution, Transmission and Impact on Treatment Outcome

Abstract

Objectives

Little is known about the distribution and intergenerational transmission of attachment representations in ADHD populations and further how attachment may influence the prognosis of ADHD. In this study we aimed to investigate attachment distribution, intergenerational transmission and the potential impact of maternal and child attachment representations on treatment response in a sample of children with ADHD.

Methods

Sixty mother-child dyads from families with offspring ADHD were recruited. Attachment representations were assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and the Child Attachment Interview (CAI). ADHD symptom severity was assessed at four time points with the ADHD-Rating Scale.

Results

Of the children, only 15% and among the mothers, only 23% were securely attached. Contrary to predictions, the association between maternal and child attachment representations (Secure versus Insecure) did not reach statistical significance as we found overall concordance rate to be 63% (kappa = −0.05). Neither child nor maternal attachment significantly predicted treatment response.

Conclusions

In families with offspring ADHD, the prevalence of insecure attachment was remarkably high in the children as well as in the mothers. Intergenerational transmission of attachment was very low and in short-term follow up, attachment representations did not affect treatment outcome. Our findings support previous research in suggesting that the relationship between ADHD and Insecure attachment is complex. Nevertheless, the importance of considering attachment as a factor in the treatment, functional impairment and long term prognosis of children with ADHD remains.

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Author Contributions

P.D.R. designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper, Y.SG. collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. E.S. collaborated with the design and writing of the study, A.B.B. analyzed the data and wrote part of the results, N.B. and O.J.S. collaborated with the design and writing of the study.

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This research was supported by a research grant from Produktion, Forskning og Innovation and Lægeforeningens Forskningsfond.

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Correspondence to Pernille Darling Rasmussen.

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Darling Rasmussen, P., Bilenberg, N., Shmueli-Goetz, Y. et al. Attachment Representations in Mothers and Their Children Diagnosed with ADHD: Distribution, Transmission and Impact on Treatment Outcome. J Child Fam Stud 28, 1018–1028 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01344-5

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