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© 2018 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Background: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Up to two thirds of young people with ADHD may experience symptoms into adulthood, yet the limited literature available suggests that many young people with ongoing needs do not transfer from child to adult healthcare services. Although worldwide and NICE guidelines recognise the importance of supported transition, evidence suggests for ADHD that this is poorly managed and variable. Little is known about how transition is experienced by those involved. We aimed to synthesise existing peer-reviewed literature to understand views and experiences of young people, carers and clinicians on transitioning between child and adult ADHD services. Method: Five databases were searched and all articles published between 2000 and up until January 2017 considered. Four key search areas were targeted; ADHD, Transition, Age and Qualitative Research. Quality appraisal was conducted using Wallace criteria. Findings from included studies were synthesised using thematic analysis. Results: Eight papers, six from the UK and one each from Hong Kong and Italy, were included. Emerging themes centred on difficulties transitioning; hurdles that had to be negotiated, limitations of adult mental health services, inadequate care and the impact of transition difficulties. Conclusions: Healthcare transition for this group is difficult in the United Kingdom because of multiple challenges in service provision. In addition to recommendations in NICE guidelines, respondents identified a need for better provision of information to young people about adult services and what to expect, greater flexibility around age boundaries and the value of support from specialist adult ADHD services. More research is needed into ADHD healthcare transition experiences, especially in countries outside the United Kingdom, including accounts from carers and clinicians.

Original publication




Journal article


Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Publication Date





113 - 122