Understanding ADHD
Understanding ADHD

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding ADHD

1.2.1 Impact on parents and caregivers

A recent study by Mofokeng and van der Wath (2017) examined the impact on parents of having a child (or children) with ADHD. This study was a type of study that collected qualitative data. Qualitative data focus on the rich quality of the experience and feelings of individuals without any attempt to quantify this information (turn it into numerical form). This can be collected by others observing an individual or through asking them about their experiences.

There are different methods used in studies that collect qualitative data, but this particular study (Mofokeng and van der Wath, 2017) used the common qualitative technique of interviewing.

Interviewing as a research method

Interviews can be unstructured, structured or somewhere in between – the semi-structured interview. All three types of interview technique can be used in research. Here you will look a little more closely at structured and unstructured interviews:

  • In a structured interview, the researcher will ask the same set of questions to all respondents in the same order and will not probe any of the answers further. The questions are typically closed questions (i.e. with yes/no answers) which means answers may lack detail. However, structured interviews are quick to conduct, so data can be collected from a large sample, and exactly the same process can be followed for all participants, leading to increased reliability.
  • In an unstructured interview, the researcher may start with a specific set of questions but these would normally be open questions that can be asked in any order. Questions may be omitted or added as the interviewer sees fit in individual interviews and answers can be probed for more detail. Such questioning requires highly skilled interviewers and careful interpretation.

Based on the definitions above, click on the link below and complete the table by dragging the appropriate strengths and weaknesses into each type of interview.

Table 1 The strengths and weaknesses of different interviewing approaches

Unlike quantitative research, where the statistical analysis determines to some extent the amount of data that needs to be collected, the amount of data collected in qualitative methods is based on the principle of reaching a saturation point – the point at which no new information is obtained when further data are collected.

The interviews by Mofokeng and van der Wath (2017) centred on one question, ‘What are your experiences as a parent living with a child diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?’. This was followed up with appropriate probing questions.

  • Based on this description and the information in the box above, what kind of interview did they conduct?

  • They conducted an unstructured interview because they used an open question and were able to follow this up as appropriate for each participant.

Based on their interviews, Mofokeng and van der Wath (2017) concluded that parents typically experience stress as they struggle to cope with the child’s ADHD and the stigmatising attitudes from family and community members. In Activity 2 you will learn more about the challenges parents face when caring for children with ADHD.

Activity 2 Living with ADHD

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch Video 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which is about parenting a child with ADHD, up to 3 mins and 30 secs into the film. This is a long video and it is not necessary to watch all of it at this point in the course. [Open the link in a new tab/window so you can easily return to this page after viewing.]

What does Sam’s mother mention as the hardest thing about living with Sam’s ADHD?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


The energy. Sam is ‘always on the go’ and is impulsive so she’s easily side-tracked from what she is supposed to be doing. This makes her difficult to control from a parental perspective.

What risky behaviours does Sam engage in?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


She has no concept of danger so climbs trees higher than she should do and runs out onto the road. She is also running away.

What antisocial behaviours does Sam’s mother mention she has been having trouble with?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


She has been stealing and is violent towards her siblings (and sometimes her mother). She doesn’t seem to grasp what socially unacceptable behaviours are.

From what you have seen so far, it should have become clear that living with ADHD can be extremely difficult, not only for the individual with the condition but those around them. Adding to this difficulty is the fact that ADHD is rarely found on its own and is often comorbid with other conditions.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371