Clarifying ADHD and Sluggish Cognitive Tempo Item Relations with Impairment: A Network Analysis

Patrick K. Goh, Michelle M. Martel, Russell A. Barkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Despite the pervasive nature of various forms of impairment associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the precise nature of their associations with ADHD and related sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT), particularly at the heterogeneous item level, remains ambiguous. Using innovative network analysis techniques, we sought to identify and examine the concurrent validity of ADHD and SCT bridge items (i.e., those demonstrating the most robust relations with various forms of impairment) with respect to Overall, Home-School, and Community-Leisure impairment domains. Parents of a nationally representative sample of 1742 children (50.17% male) aged 6–17 years completed rating scales of ADHD, SCT, and impairment. Assessment of Bridge Expected Influence suggested eight bridge items primarily from impulsive and Task Completion (i.e., overlapping SCT and inattentive) domains that demonstrated relations with impairment in school performance, completing chores at home, interacting with family members, following rules, and playing sports. Sum scores only including bridge items exhibited relations with Overall, Home-School, and Community-Leisure impairment domains comparable to that of sum scores including all items. Bridge impairment areas were generally consistent across “Childhood” (6–11 years) and “Adolescence” (12–17 years). Problems listening and slowness emerged as bridge items in Childhood, whereas difficulties following through on instructions, problems waiting one’s turn, and social withdrawal emerged in Adolescence. Given the comparable validity of ADHD- and SCT-related bridge items versus all items, bridge items, together, may be the most efficient indicators of impairment. Further clarification is needed across development to inform personalized assessment and intervention protocols that account for item-level heterogeneity in ADHD, SCT, and impairment phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1047-1061
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • ADHD
  • Bridge items
  • Co-occurrence
  • Impairment
  • Network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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