• Emma Kiesbye Holm
  • Anna Kirstine Ladegaard
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This Master’s thesis deals with the topic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
in girls and seeks to shed light upon a research area within the social sciences which
is severely lacking. There are reasons to believe that many girls and women who have
ADHD go unnoticed in schools and other systems of society; And that they are thereby
potentially underrepresented in statistics, underdiagnosed and to some degree
misdiagnosed with other disorders due to their effective masking of ADHD-related
symptoms in social situations. We have previously (in 2021) produced a narrative
literature review focusing on well-being and learning in school-settings in regard to
girls with ADHD and based on this we find it relevant and necessary to further
investigate this research area; This time focusing on the diagnostic process related to
and the well-being of girls with ADHD as experienced and described by their parents.
Our interest in the diagnostic process stems from articles which point to problems
within the public healthcare system in Denmark in terms of the processes related to
the referral, examination, and clinical assessment of mental disorders. Diagnoses and
diagnostic processes are also highly topical subjects due to the forthcoming clinical
implementations of the ICD-11 diagnostic manual from the World Health
Organization in the year of 2022 which includes changes to the diagnostic criteria of
the disorder internationally known as ADHD but until recently classified as
Hyperkinetic Disorder within the ICD-system. These points of interest have inspired
the following problem formulation: How can parental survey responses elucidate the
diagnostic process in regards to ADHD in girls as well as the implications of the
disorder in terms of their well-being?

Taking a phenomenological approach, we have produced and conducted an online
survey addressed to parents of girls with ADHD using SurveyXact, providing the
participants with the option of providing qualitative answers to the survey questions.
The survey responses from 133 anonymous participants reached through ADHDrelated
Facebook groups have been analyzed using the method of a descriptive
phenomenological analysis. Our general conclusions are that symptoms of ADHD can
greatly affect the well-being of girls and that in many cases the poor well-being of the
girls in question was improved after receiving an ADHD diagnosis. Also, that the
diagnostic process was described by the participants in both negative, positive and
neutral terms. Among descriptions of positive experiences, participants described the
process as professional and expedient and that they as parents felt heard and taken
seriously. Among negative descriptions related to the diagnostic process, participants
described long waiting time in the public health care system (which in several cases
affected the well-being of the girls negatively as their well-being worsened with time),
disagreements between parents and professionals as to the presence or degree of the
participants’ daughters’ symptoms as well as descriptions of feeling that there is a lack
of available public information about being a parent of a girl with ADHD.
Prior to producing the survey, we produced four hypotheses. The first hypothesis was
that we expected to see relatively late ages of diagnosis of ADHD among the
participants’ daughters compared to the average age of diagnosis related to ADHD in
boys. In fact, 81.2 % of the participants reported that their daughters were diagnosed
at the age of nine years or older, which is later than the average age of diagnosis across
genders. The second hypothesis was that we expected many examples of girls being
“diagnosed” with ADD, i.e., Attention Deficit Disorder, which is in fact not possible
using the ICD-10 diagnostic manual. However, 62.41 % of the participants reported
that they had been told that their daughter had been given the diagnosis of ADD and
only 1.5 % reported that their daughters had been diagnosed with Hyperkinetic
Disorder, which is the correct diagnostic term using the ICD-10 diagnostic manual.
The third hypothesis was that we expected descriptions of negative experiences and
difficulties related to the diagnostic process. Although the number of negative
responses did not exceed the number of positive and neutral responses, we can
conclude that we did receive numerous negative responses from the participants
related to the process of receiving a diagnosis for their daughters. The fourth
hypothesis was that we expected descriptions of the manifestation of ADHDsymptoms
varying between different contexts such as in school vs. at home. We can
conclude that the participants reported to a great extent that they have experienced
variations in their daughter’s symptoms of ADHD depending on the context and
Further research is needed regarding ADHD in girls and women as well as in general
and we have presented ideas as to what said research may focus on. We hope that
further research may provide information that can contribute to better opportunities of
identifying and helping people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder however
their symptoms may present themselves.
Publication date2022
Number of pages91
ID: 471541983