Social problem solving in adult patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Social problem solving in adult patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Psychiatry Res. 2019 Dec 06;:112721

Authors: Thoma P, Sonnenburg S, Marcinkowski N, Juckel G, Edel MA, Suchan B

Patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) experience interpersonal difficulties potentially linked to impaired social cognition. We aimed to investigate social problem solving strategies in adults with ADHD. Nineteen patients with ADHD and 20 healthy controls were assessed with a scenario-based battery gauging the ability to understand other people’s mental states, to recognize interpersonal conflicts and to generate and identify optimal (i.e. both socially sensitive and practically effective) solutions to these conflicts. Furthermore, measures of socioemotional and executive functioning were administered. Patients and controls performed on a similar level with respect to theory of mind, the generation of the “best” solution to problematic social situations and the selection of the optimal solution out of alternatives. However, in a fluency task, patients generated fewer optimal solutions, while the number of only socially sensitive, only practically effective or irrelevant solutions was comparable in both groups. The overall ability to freely generate problem solutions was not linked to executive functioning or trait empathy, but better generation abilities were related to lower social interaction anxiety in the patients only. This suggests impaired generation fluency of optimal interpersonal conflict solutions in patients with ADHD which might contribute to higher levels of anxiety in social interactions.

PMID: 31818544 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]