The Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS)

Photo of Pittsburgh with InclinePrincipal Investigators: Brooke Molina, PhD and Sarah Pedersen, PhD

Funding Source: NIAAA

The Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS) is one of the largest long-term studies ever conducted in which children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are followed through adolescence into adulthood.  The investigators are Drs. Brooke Molina and Sarah Pedersen, University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. William E. Pelham, Jr., Florida International University.  Many other investigators have provided their expertise and support over the years.

Since 1999, the study has been following approximately 400 individuals diagnosed with ADHD in childhood who received treatment through the Children's Summer Day Treatment Program for ADHD in Pittsburgh (Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, University of Pittsburgh).  An additional 240 individuals without ADHD are also participating for comparison purposes. 

The purpose of the study is to learn more about the development of children diagnosed with ADHD in the 1980s and 1990s and to answer major questions in the field about factors that affect longterm course.  We study educational and occupational functioning, social and family relations, drug and alcohol use, and the extent to which childhood problems may or may not have persisted into adolescence and young adulthood.  A unique feature of the study is the ability to answer questions about healthy functioning in adulthood as a function of childhood characteristics, such as severity of problems in childhood or treatment history.

In 2020, the study was funded for an additional five years, and 90% of the original participant group remain involved.  As our study participants age through their 30s and into their early 40s, we will be able to examine the degree to which experiences related to ADHD in adolescence and early adulthood continue as employment and family responsibilities increase.  Individuals will participate in two assessments, spaced two years apart.  In addition to our standard surveys that assess many domains of functioning, we have added an innovative brief cellphone-based assessment that participants will complete throughout the day for 10 days.  Combining these new methods is a novel approach that will allow us to better understand long-term functioning and in-the-moment experiences that contribute to overall outcomes.

PALS study participants may call the PALS scheduling line at 412-246-5656 to speak to a staff person or to schedule a study appointment. For more information about PALS, please contact the study coordinator, Tracey Wilson, at 412-246-5673 or by email.


Photo of PALS Staff Members


The PALS Study is Hiring!

Research Specialist (Youth and Family Research Program) in Pittsburgh, PA - UPMC

The Research Specialist will be responsible for all aspects of enrolling participants in a NIAAA funded longitudinal research study. The position requires a Bachelor's degree and one year of work experience in a research project and/or related clinical setting.

The Youth and Family Research Program seeks to be an inclusive and safe space for all staff and participants. We value diversity and are committed to rectifying longstanding inequities with research and academia. We conduct high quality research with the goal of understanding the causes, course, prevention, and treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and related behavioral health problems, alcoholism, and drug addictions across the life cycle.

Participant Payment

A Vincent card is a reloadable debit card issued by research studies at the University of Pittsburgh. It can be used as a credit or debit card. Learn more by exploring the frequently asked questions »