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Thriving at work with ADHD: antecedents and outcomes of proactive disclosure

Cheryl K. McIntosh (Craig School of Business, Missouri Western State University, Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA)
Shelia A. Hyde (College of Business, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, USA)
Myrtle P. Bell (Department of Management, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA)
Paul E. Yeatts (Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 15 September 2022

Issue publication date: 21 March 2023




The purpose of this study is to examine factors relating to the decision to proactively disclose a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a concealable stigmatized identity, before experiencing performance issues at work. These factors include stigma consciousness, psychological safety, and job demands. Proactive disclosure is also measured in relation to thriving.


Data were collected through the online research platform Prolific. Variables of interest were measured using surveys of 166 working adults who have ADHD. Path analysis was used to test the hypotheses.


The authors hypothesized that stigma consciousness is negatively related to proactive disclosure of ADHD at work and that psychological safety and job demands are positively related to it. The authors further hypothesized that proactive disclosure mediates the relationship between these variables and thriving at work. The results partially support these hypotheses, indicating that stigma consciousness is negatively related to proactive disclosure while psychological safety is positively related. Proactive disclosure fully mediates the relationship between stigma consciousness and thriving and partially mediates the relationship between psychological safety and thriving. Job demands relate to thriving but are not significantly related to proactive disclosure.

Practical implications

Organizations can help employees who have concealable disabilities to proactively disclose them and thrive by providing a psychologically safe environment where disabilities are not stigmatized.


This study diverges from previous studies by measuring positive contextual and individual factors that help employees who have ADHD to thrive in the workplace. A proactive disclosure scale is developed and validated.



McIntosh, C.K., Hyde, S.A., Bell, M.P. and Yeatts, P.E. (2023), "Thriving at work with ADHD: antecedents and outcomes of proactive disclosure", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 228-247.



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