Depressive symptoms commonly co-occur in teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and poor social function is a known predictor of depressive symptoms. This study’s purpose was to determine whether school connectedness mediates the association between social function and depressive symptoms in teenagers with ADHD.
In this secondary analysis, we selected 313 (74%) of 425 teenagers with ADHD (male 72%, mean age = 15 years) who had completed data on depressive symptoms, social function, and school connectedness in the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study. The mediation effect of school connectedness was tested by multiple regression using SPSS PROCESS macro with 5000 bootstrap samples controlling covariates (teenagers’ age, gender, and race, their relationship with primary caregivers, type of school teenager attends, time of living with primary caregivers, and primary caregivers’ education).
Social function predicted depressive symptoms (direct effect = −0.132, 95% CI = −0.218, −0.045). School connectedness mediated the relationship between social function and depressive symptoms (indirect effect = −0.084; 95% CI = −0.130, −0.045).
This study points to the importance of considering school factors in understanding depression symptoms in children with ADHD. Also, clinicians should consider asking teenagers about school-related factors such as school connectedness which is likely important in understanding the experience of depressive symptoms in this population. Identifying ways to help enhance school connectedness for young people with ADHD should be prioritized.