How to Use the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scales Self Report: Short Version
The Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scales (CAARS) are a set of tools that help assess the presence and severity of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. The CAARS include different forms for self-report and observer ratings, as well as long and short versions. In this article, we will focus on the self-report short version (CAARS-S:S), which is a 26-item questionnaire that covers four subscales: Inattention/Memory Problems, Hyperactivity/Restlessness, Impulsivity/Emotional Lability, and Problems with Self-Concept. We will also explain how to interpret the results and where to find more information about the CAARS.
What is the CAARS-S:S
The CAARS-S:S is a brief and easy-to-use instrument that prompts an adult to provide valuable information about themselves. This instrument is helpful when considering a diagnosis of ADHD or related problems, such as learning difficulties, mood disorders, or substance abuse. The CAARS-S:S can also be used to monitor treatment progress and outcomes.
The CAARS-S:S consists of 26 statements that describe common behaviors and feelings associated with ADHD. The adult is asked to rate how frequently each statement applies to them on a 4-point scale, from 0 (not at all/never) to 3 (very much/very frequently). The items are grouped into four subscales that measure different aspects of ADHD:
Inattention/Memory Problems: This subscale assesses difficulties with concentration, organization, planning, task completion, and memory.
Hyperactivity/Restlessness: This subscale assesses difficulties with staying still, working on the same task for long periods of time, and feeling restless or fidgety.
Impulsivity/Emotional Lability: This subscale assesses difficulties with impulse control, frustration tolerance, mood changes, and emotional regulation.
Problems with Self-Concept: This subscale assesses difficulties with self-esteem, self-confidence, and social relationships.
In addition to the four subscales, the CAARS-S:S also includes an ADHD Index, which is a composite score that identifies individuals who are at risk for ADHD. The ADHD Index is based on the most discriminating items from the four subscales.
How to Interpret the CAARS-S:S Results
The CAARS-S:S results are reported as raw scores and T-scores for each subscale and the ADHD Index. Raw scores are simply the sum of the ratings for each item. T-scores are standardized scores that compare the individual's performance to a normative sample of 1026 adults. T-scores have a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. Higher T-scores indicate higher levels of ADHD symptoms.
The CAARS-S:S provides general guidelines for interpreting the T-scores based on their deviation from the mean. The guidelines are as follows:
65 or aboveMarkedly atypical (indicates significant problem)
60-64Moderately atypical (indicates possible significant problem)
55-59Mildly atypical (indicates possible problem)
45-54Average score (typical; should not raise concern)
40-44Mildly low (indicates possible strength)
35-39Moderately low (indicates possible significant strength)
34 or belowMarkedly low (indicates significant strength)
The interpretation of the T-scores should be done in conjunction with other sources of relevant information, such as clinical interviews, behavioral observations, collateral reports, and neuropsychological testing. The CAARS-S:S results are based on 061ffe29dd