Standardized ADHD rating scales can streamline diagnosis1-3

Input from rating scales can help clinicians more quickly identify ADHD—a condition that is underdiagnosed in adult patients1-3

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Clinical Rating Scales

Clinical rating scales can enhance ADHD assessments

It is important that clinicians screen for ADHD in adults, given the prevalence of ADHD and its overall burden in this population.1

  • Screening tools help create a complete clinical picture, minimizing the potential for an incorrect diagnosis or missed comorbidities1,3
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Rating Scale

ADHD Rating Scale-5 (ADHD-RS-5)1,4

An 18-item scale comprised of items that correspond directly to DSM-5 symptoms of ADHD.

Although originally designed for use in a pediatric population, this instrument has been modified to include prompts specific to adult ADHD symptoms.

Domains/subscales measured

  • 9 items assessing hyperactivity
  • 9 items assessing inattention

Rating Scale

Adult ADHD Self-Report Screening Scale for DSM-5 (ASRS-5)5

A short, 6-item, scale for use by patients to help recognize potential signs and symptoms of adult ADHD (self-reporting).

Domains/subscales measured

  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty with relaxing/unwinding
  • Intrusive behavior
  • Inability to complete tasks
  • Self-sufficiency

Rating Scale

Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scales—Self Report (CAARS-S:L)6

A 66-item scale completed by patients; respondents rate their impairment across a number of domains clinically relevant to ADHD (self-report).

Domains/subscales measured

  • Inattention/memory issues
  • Hyperactivity/restlessness
  • Issues with self-concept
  • Impulsivity/emotional lability

Key Takeaways

  • Use of rating scales promotes accurate and timely diagnosis in the adult ADHD population, where the disorder is frequently underdiagnosed1-3
  • ADHD rating scales can provide a rapid view across different symptoms domains1,5,6


  1. Jain R, Jain S, Montano B. Addressing diagnosis and treatment gaps in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2017;19(5):17nr02153. doi: 10.4088/PCC.17nr02153.
  2. Kooij JJS, Bijlenga D, Salerno L, et al. Updated European Consensus Statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD. Eur Psychiatry. 2019;56:14-34.
  3. Ramsay JR. Assessment and monitoring of treatment response in adult ADHD patients: current perspectives. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017;13:221–232.
  4. Nasser A, Kosheleff AR, Hull JT, et al. Translating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scale-5 and Weiss Functional Impairment Rating Scale-Parent Effectiveness scores into clinical global impressions clinical significance levels in four randomized clinical trials of SPN-812 (viloxazine extended-release) in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Child Adol Psychopharmacology. 2021;31(3):214-226.
  5. Ustun B, Adler LA, Rudin C, Faraone SV, Spencer TJ, Berglund P, Gruber MJ, Kessler RC. Adult ADHD Self-Report Screening Scale for DSM-5 (ASRS-5). JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(5):520-527.
  6. Connors CK, Erhardt D, Sparrow E. Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales—Self-Report: Long Version (CAAARS—S:L). 2002. Accessed April 24, 2021.