Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in elite athletes: a narrative review
  1. Doug Hyun Han1,
  2. David McDuff2,3,
  3. Donald Thompson4,
  4. Mary E Hitchcock5,
  5. Claudia L Reardon6,
  6. Brian Hainline7
  1. 1 Department of Psychiatry, Chung Ang University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  2. 2 Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3 MD Sports Performance, Ellicott City, Maryland, USA
  4. 4 School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  5. 5 University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ebling Library for the Health Sciences, Madison, WI, USA
  6. 6 Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  7. 7 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Doug Hyun Han, Chung Ang University Hospital, Seoul 06973, Korea (the Republic of); hduk70{at}


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common brain developmental disorder in the general population that may be even more prevalent in elite athletes in certain sports. General population studies of ADHD are extensive and have reported on prevalence, symptoms, therapeutic and adverse effects of treatment and new clinical and research findings. However, few studies have reported on prevalence, symptoms and treatments of ADHD in elite athletes. This narrative review summarises the literature on symptoms, comorbidities, effects of ADHD on performance and management options for elite athletes with ADHD. The prevalence of ADHD in student athletes and elite athletes may be 7%–8%. The symptoms and characteristics of ADHD play a role in athletes’ choice of a sport career and further achieving elite status. Proper management of ADHD in elite athletes is important for safety and performance, and options include pharmacologic and psychosocial treatments.

  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • athletes
  • psychosocial treatment
  • stimulants
  • non-stimulants

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors Authors and DHH, CLR and BH designed the current study and wrote the article. Authors DM and DT wrote the article and revised it. MEH searched for data and revised the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.