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Paediatrics

Only a quarter of children on ADHD drugs given psychotherapy in the United States

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 2–5% of school-age children and young people

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A study looked at more than 300,000 children aged 0–17 years in the United States who were taking attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drugs

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 2–5% of school-age children and young people. For many ADHD patients, combining pharmacological therapy with psychotherapy is more effective for improving outcomes than either approach alone.

New research, published in JAMA Pediatrics[1] (online, 22 September 2014), suggests that few children in the United States taking ADHD medication are also receiving psychotherapy. The study looked at more than 300,000 children aged 0–17 years in 1,516 US counties who were taking ADHD drugs. In 2010, 24.5% had been given some form of psychotherapy. Rates varied dramatically by geography; in nearly 200 counties, fewer than 1 in 10 children taking ADHD medication also received therapy. The counties in the cohort accounted for more than 90% of the US population. The children had a mean age of 11.6 years and 69.8% of them were male.

Medication-only treatment may not represent the optimal treatment for many patients, warn Walid Gellad, from RAND Corporation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and co-authors.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066634

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