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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

Most Children With ADHD Are Not Receiving Medications

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

 A young girl is being examined by a doctor.

Only 26.2% of children with parent-reported ADHD had ever received outpatient mental health care.

Percentage of children with parent reported ADHD who received treatment.

HealthDay News — Most children with parent-reported attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not receiving medications and have never received outpatient mental health care, according to a study published online April 28 in JAMA Network Open.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., from Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, and colleagues describe current ADHD medication use and lifetime outpatient mental health care in a sample of children with ADHD. Data were included from the first wave of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study (11,723 participants); 1,206 participants had parent-reported ADHD (aged 9 to 10 years).

Of the 1,206 children with ADHD, 12.9 percent were currently receiving ADHD medications. The researchers found that receipt of ADHD medications was increased for boys versus girls (15.7 versus 7.0 percent), Whites versus Blacks (14.8 versus 9.4 percent), children of parents without a high school education versus those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (32.2 versus 11.5 percent), and children with the combined versus the inattentive subtype of ADHD (17.0 versus 9.5 percent). Outpatient mental health care had ever been received by about 26.2 percent of children with parent-reported ADHD. The proportion of children receiving outpatient mental health care was higher for those whose parents had a high school education or some college versus a bachelor’s degree or higher (36.2 and 31.0 percent, respectively, versus 21.3 percent), children with family incomes <$25,000 or $25,000 to $49,999 versus ≥$75,000 (36.5 and 27.7 percent, respectively, versus 20.1 percent), and for children with the combined versus the predominantly inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive subtype of ADHD (33.6 versus 20.0 percent, respectively, and 22.4 percent).

“These patterns suggest that attitudinal rather than socioeconomic factors often impede the flow of children with ADHD into treatment,” the authors write.


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