Experiences of employed women with attention deficit hyperactive disorder: A phenomenological study

Naomi Schreuer, R. Dorot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Employees with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face various risks in the workplace. Little is known of the specific challenges women with ADHD experience. OBJECTIVE: To explore the experiences of working women with ADHD and learn the strategies and accommodations that facilitate their maintaining employment. METHOD: Qualitative phenomenological approach was used to echo women's subjective perceptions and experiences representing their daily interactions in their workplace. In-depth interviews were conducted with eleven tertiary-educated employed women (M = 33.5; SD = 6.61 years), diagnosed with ADHD and the transcripts were analyzed by three researchers, using the qualitative phenomenological approach. RESULTS: Most interviewed women with ADHD described interactions with their workplace as confusing, overwhelming, and chaotic. They perceived their ADHD as a significant obstacle to success in employment that also conferred some advantages. Three interviewthemes are explored here (1) challenges in coping with job demands and theworkplace, including the disclosure dilemma; (2) personal coping strategies; (3) useful accommodations. CONCLUSIONS: For the women interviewed, employment was important for their self-identity, beyond simply making a living. Their experiences indicate impaired executive functioning and inhibition and sensory sensitivity, consistently with theoretical models for ADHD. They identified gender-specific issues, such as using medication during pregnancy, which led them to seek for non-pharmacological coping mechanisms. They contributed practical knowledge regarding employee-led adaptations and employer-provided workplace accommodations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-441
Number of pages13
JournalWork
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 - IOS Press and the authors.

Keywords

  • Accommodations
  • Attention deficit
  • Gender
  • Hyperactivity disorder
  • Qualitative method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Rehabilitation

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