Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder physical examination

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Haleigh Williams, B.S.

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ADHD is not associated with any particular physical characteristics. A diagnosis is made following a psychiatric evaluation, which consists of a subjective assessment of the patient's behavior. Clinicians often encourage several informants, including parents and teachers, to fill out rating scales based on their knowledge of the patient's symptoms and behaviors.[1]

Psychiatric Evaluation

  • A psychiatric evaluation of a patient who may be suffering from ADHD consists of an assessment of the behavior of the patient as observed by the clinician and as reported by those who frequently interact with the patient.
  • It is common practice for clinicians to administer rating scales to those who have frequent contact with the patient such as parents and teachers.[1] It is important that rating scales be completed by people who observe the patient in different settings, such as at home and at school, since ADHD symptoms can be situation-specific.[2]
  • One commonly used scale is the Vanderbilt Rating Scale, which was developed by the National Institute for Children's Health Quality (NICHQ).
  • Other standardized evaluations include the Brown Rating Scale and the Wender Utah Rating Scale. The latter is administered specifically to adults who present with symptoms of ADHD.[1]
  • It is important to note that these rating scales are subjective, and informants regularly differ in their reports.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gualtieri CT, Johnson LG (2005). "ADHD: Is Objective Diagnosis Possible?". Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2 (11): 44–53. PMC 2993524. PMID 21120096.
  2. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association. 2013. ISBN 0890425558.

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