Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2004


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

L. Kathleen Sekula

Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Miller

Committee Member

Kathleen Gaberson

Committee Member

Richard Zoucha


ADHD, adolescence, friendship, self-perception, triangulated research


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which affects 3 -- 6% of school- aged children, is considered one of the most common behavioral disorders of childhood. Of those, up to 70% will continue to have symptoms into adolescence. Adolescence is a critical transitional period on the route to adulthood that has the building of self-identity as its chief developmental task. Adults with positive self-perceptions tend to be more productive members of society. Most of the studies directed at understanding the self-perceptions of those with ADHD have been done with children and those studies have yielded mixed results. There are practically no studies about the self-perceptions of adolescents with ADHD. The purpose of this study was to examine the self-perceptions of adolescents with ADHD.

This was an investigative, triangulated, cross-section study based on Symbolic Interaction Theory that examined the self-perceptions of students with ADHD (n=21) in senior high school. These students were matched by grade and gender to peers without ADHD (n=23). Triangulation was accomplished using quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. Quantitative data was collected using the Harter Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents and was analyzed using the paired t test and Spearman correlations. Qualitative data was gathered using phenomenologically focused interviews and was analyzed using methods suggested by van Kaam and Munhall.

The outcome revealed that both methods yielded similar results. Teens with ADHD had significantly poorer global self-perceptions (p=.02) than their peers. In addition the students with ADHD had a significantly poorer perception (p=.04) of their social acceptance. Correlations revealed that perceptions of close friendship (rs=.55, p=.01) were significantly related to perceptions of global self-worth for the teens with ADHD. The qualitative data revealed that the social interactions of teens with ADHD center on solitary pursuits such as video games or Internet chat rooms or they are marginally involved with peers. In addition, the teens with ADHD perceived themselves in terms of their disorder. Inattention had a strong negative influence in shaping the self-perceptions of the teens ADHD. The results of this study can guide nurses and other health professionals in formulating plans of care that can help teens with ADHD reach adulthood with healthy self-perceptions.