Remarkable high frequency of insecure attachment in children with ADHD persists in a three-year follow-up

Pernille Darling Rasmussen*, Mette Elmose, Gunnhild Lien, Amalie Musaeus, Richard Kirubakaran, Johanne Pereira Ribeiro, Ole Jakob Storebø

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: Studies have pointed to a complicated and mutual relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attachment. In an observational follow-up study conducted in 2015 60 children from 7 years to 12 years recently diagnosed with ADHD were included and assessed according to attachment representation showing 85% of the children to be insecurely attached. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the stability of this remarkably high frequency of insecure attachment in the same cohort of children. Methods: Children previously assessed using the child attachment interview (CAI) when diagnosed with ADHD were contacted three years later for a follow-up CAI assessment. Results: At follow-up, 31 children participated in the CAI-interviews. Since their diagnosis with ADHD, the children had received treatment as usual. The CAI-interviews showed a continued high rate of insecure attachment with 90% of the children classifying as insecurely attached compared to expected 38% in the normal population. Of these, the majority of children (77%) were classified as dismissing. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that targeting ADHD-symptoms with our current treatment strategies does not in itself improve attachment security. Attachment security may in turn be a factor of importance when evaluating general functioning and prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)323-329
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • ADHD
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • child attachment interview
  • follow-up
  • insecure attachment
  • Object Attachment
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Child
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/diagnosis


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