The Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale is used to help in the diagnostic process of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children between the ages of 6 and 12.
It has a total of 55 questions, includes all 18 of the DSM criteria for ADHD and should be completed by a parent of the child.
The teacher rated version can be used in parallel: Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Teacher Rating Scale (VADTRS).
As well as identifying inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined subtypes of ADHD, it can also be used to identify symptoms of frequent comorbidities, including oppositional defiance, conduct disorder, anxiety and depression.
Psychometric Properties #
Concurrent validity has been established through comparing parent rating with teacher ratings and those independently diagnosed with ADHD (Mark et al., 2003). Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed four factors that fitted with the theoretical formulation of inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, ODD-CD, and anxiety-depression subscales.
Becker et al. (2011) validated the subscales but reformulated the scoring method for the comorbid sub-scales by using the total sum of scores. In this scoring system the total sum of the subscales (rather than when a parents rates either 2 or 3 on the Likert scale), ODD is ruled out at <10, CD at <4, Anxiety at <5 and Depression at <5. Nevertheless, the overall scale was validated and found to have high reliability and clinical utility.
Scoring and Interpretation #
Scores are presented for the three subtypes of ADHD:
- Predominately Inattentive Subtype. A child meets the diagnostic criteria if they have six or more “Often” or “Very Often” on items 1 to 9, plus a performance problem (scores of 1 or 2) on questions 48 to 55.
- Predominately Hyperactive/Impulsive Subtype. A child meets diagnostic criteria if they have six or more “Often” or “Very Often” on items 10 through 18, plus a performance problem (scores of 1 or 2) on questions 48 to 55.
- Combined Subtype. A child meets the diagnostic criteria if they meet the above criteria for both Inattentive and Hyperactive/Impulsive subtypes.
Percentiles are presented (based upon the age of the child) comparing the respondent’s scores to those of a community sample of 1,570 parents in the USA (Anderson et al., 2022). A percentile of 50 indicates average (and healthy) functioning, and higher percentiles indicate more reported difficulties. For example, a percentile of 90 indicates the parent reports more problems for their child that 90 percent of other parents.
In addition to the ADHD scales, scores are presented for frequently comorbid difficulties. Children with scores below the clinical cutoff are highly unlikely to meet the diagnostic criteria for that disorder. Children above the cutoff on the ODD, CD, Anxiety/Depression sub-scales should be further evaluated, as these sub-scales are only designed as a cursory screening measure for such problems.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder = items 19 to 26. To be above the clinical cutoff score of 2 or 3 on 4(or more) out of 8 behaviors on questions 19–26 AND score a 1 or 2 on any of the performance questions 48–55.
- Conduct Disorder = items 27 to 40. To be above the clinical cutoff scores a 2 or 3 on 3(or more) out of 14 behaviors on questions 27–40 AND score a 1 or 2 on any of the performance questions 48–55
- Anxiety/ Depression = items 41 to 47. To be above the clinical cutoff scores a 2 or 3 on 3(or more) out of 7 behaviors on questions 41–47 AND score a 1 or 2 on any of the performance questions 48–55.
Wolraich, M. L., Hannah, J. N., Baumgaertel, A., & Feurer, I. D. (1998). Examination of DSM-IV critieria for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a county-wide sample. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 19, 162– 168. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004703-199806000-00003
Anderson, N. P., Feldman, J. A., Kolko, D. J., Pilkonis, P. A., & Lindhiem, O. (2022). National Norms for the Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale in Children. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 47(6), 652–661. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsab132
Becker, S. P., Langberg, J. M., Vaughn, A. J., & Epstein, J. N. (2012). Clinical utility of the Vanderbilt ADHD diagnostic parent rating scale comorbidity screening scales. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 33(3), 221. https://doi.org/10.1097/dbp.0b013e318245615b
Wolraich, M, Lambert, W., Doffing, M., Bickman, L., Simmons, T., Worley, K., (2003). Psychometric Properties of the Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale in a Referred Population, Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 28, Issue 8, 1, Pages 559–568. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsg046