Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common brain developmental disorder with a
worldwide prevalence ranging from 2.5% to 7.2%. 1 Its essential features are a persistent pattern of
age-inappropriate inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity causing dysfunction in multiple settings
(which may include academic, work or sport settings) and interpersonal relationships since prior to
the age of 12

ADHD is associated with academic underachievement and impairment in behavioral, social and
motor functioning, such that the symptoms of ADHD may affect individuals’ eligibility to participate in
athletic activities, and potentially impact their athletic performance. This systematic literature review
aimed to examine the impact of ADHD on athletes, and explore the effects of sport participation on
ADHD symptoms.

A deeper understanding of the link between ADHD and sport would facilitate
improved management of ADHD, as well as appropriate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in
athletes. Literature searches were run in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO and Cochrane Database,
using search terms including: sports, athletes, attention deficit, conduct disorder and various
pharmacological or drug therapy terms, on 19 August 2016.

ADHD likely plays a role in some athletes’ career choices however, athletes can’t get proper
treatment and care due to lack of knowledge and stigma. ADHD affects an estimated, roughly 7% to
8% of elite athletes, the review team notes. The focus of management should be on medications and
psychosocial treatment to optimize long-term outcomes for elite athletes in sport and life


Diagnosis, prevalence and co morbidity of ADHD

A formal diagnosis of ADHD may be made based on an athlete’s symptoms and history using the
criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Patients with ADHD
show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with
functioning or development, and includes at least 6 months of at least six symptoms from the
‘inattention’ or ‘hyperactivity and impulsivity’ category (combined type ADHD includes at least six
symptoms from each of these categories).