Wender Utah Rating Scale: Psychometrics, clinical utility and implications regarding the elements of ADHD

Thomas E. Gift, Matthew L. Reimherr, Barrie K. Marchant, Tammy A. Steans, Frederick W. Reimherr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS) is a self-report instrument completed by adults assessing a range of childhood symptoms and behaviors consistent with ADHD persisting into adulthood. Many items reflect emotional dysregulation. Although over 30 publications have examined its psychometric properties, reliance on non-clinical samples has limited conclusions from these reports, as have sub-optimal statistical approaches in most previous publications. None compared the full WURS to the abbreviated WURS-25. We evaluated both versions with adults presenting for treatment: 137 with ADHD and 230 with GAD or MDD, along with 120 normal controls. Factor analysis was performed on the full WURS using the clinical cohorts. The WURS versions were compared using ANOVA, logistic regression, ROC and confusion matrices. Consistent with two previous reports, the full WURS generated five factors: Disruptive mood & behavior, ADHD, Anxiety/dysphoria, Social and Academic. The ADHD factor correlated r > 0.8 with the Disruptive mood/behavior and the Academic factor. ADHD patients scored higher than GAD/MDD subjects (p < .001) on the Disruptive mood & behavior, ADHD, and Academic factors. The WURS-25 produced good separation of ADHD subjects from normal controls with ROC (AUC = 0.974) and logistic regression (Sensitivity = 91%, Specificity = 92%). Conversely, the full WURS better separated ADHD subjects from psychiatric controls with both ROC (AUC = 0.995) and logistic regression (Sensitivity = 84%, Specificity = 94%). Use of the full WURS with its five factors proved more successful at distinguishing ADHD from MDD and GAD than did the WURS-25. Its factors identify symptoms, including those of emotional dysregulation, critical to understanding ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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