“(In research studies,) The Primary outcome of efficacy studies is almost always symptom-based, not about functioning. That’s a problem. And efficacy is measured in 8-12 weeks and then done…”
-Scott Kollins, PhD at 2022 CHADD meeting
The Downside of Research
Symptoms lead to symptomatic behaviors, so measuring the impact of a treatment against symptoms is a good place to start. That said, where the rubber hits the road for every adult is in functioning. You can improve focus with a stimulant, for example, but if you don’t apply that focus to helping you perform better in ways that matter to you, does it matter?
In relationships, better functioning is usually about becoming calmer, more reliable, and able to engage with others in a healthier way.
I believe that adults with ADHD need to use efficacy research as a jumping off point, but define and measure their goals against specific target symptoms and improvements. That means using improved focus to be able to coordinate tasks if that’s a huge issue. Or using the power of anti-hypertensives to calm reactivity and then augmenting that progress with ADHD-informed couples therapy to work through the accumulated bad habits you’ve both created (now that you can stay calm while doing this work). Symptoms are a start…but behavior and interactive improvements are the gold standard. Set those together (for couples work) and measure THAT.
Resources For those in relationships impacted by ADHD
ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - Is your relationship in trouble? My highly acclaimed 9-session Zoom seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships. The next live seminar will be in Fall 2023. Dates will be posted in late August, '23.