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Study on work habits of people with ADHD prompts anger

May 30, 2008 | 10:53 am

A study released this week on the work habits of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder stirred up considerable angst among people with ADHD and those who treat them, according to a sampling of mental health blogs. The study, published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that workers with ADHD do 22 days less work per year than people who do not have the disorder. The research, which surveyed more than 7,000 employed people ages 18 to 44, was conducted by a World Health Organization research consortium based at Harvard Medical School.

The paper found that 3.5% of workers have ADHD but noted that many adults with the condition don't know they have it. The lead author of the paper said that employers might want to implement targeted workplace screening to assess ADHD and offer treatment to some employees. That suggestion raises all kinds of uncomfortable issues, such as the potential for discrimination against workers with ADHD and the specter of some kind of forced treatment in order to keep one's job - not to mention health privacy issues.

Besides, says the psych blogger, Furious Seasons, who among us doesn't have good work days and bad? He writes:

"Isn't America already the most (or second most) productive country in the world? Don't Americans already work more hours per week than just about any people on Earth? We're already working our butts off, the price of everything is going up dramatically, our wages are largely stagnant. Why do we need to perform even more? Who is this kind of policy wonk talk really serving? Workers? Eli Lilly? Harvard? Boeing?"

- Shari Roan