VOICES of children with ADHD support medication use
medwireNews: Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) benefit from the use of stimulant medication and do not feel that it turns them into "robots," suggests research.
The ADHD Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics and Stimulants (VOICES) study report, published on the ADHD VOICES website and produced by Ilina Singh (Kings College London, UK) and co-investigators, found that many children feel that such medication helps them to control their behavior and improve decision-making.
Explaining the basis of the study, details of which were also published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Singh told the press: "ADHD is a very emotive subject which inspires passionate debate. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the condition, what causes it, how to deal with children with ADHD, but the voices of these children are rarely listened to."
To investigate how children with ADHD feel about their condition, Singh and colleagues recruited 151 children with a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD. Of these, 82 were from the UK (80.5% male; mean age 10.87 years) and 69 from the USA (60.9% male; mean age 11.41 years). All the children had middle- to lower-middle-class backgrounds and most were of White ethnicity (66.7% in USA; 86.6% in UK).
The researchers conducted interviews with all the children for approximately 1 hour using a standardized set of questions; the team also collected information from parents and caregivers to put the children's responses in context.
As well as finding that many children felt that medication helped them cope better with decision-making and behavioral control, Singh and team discovered that many children were ill-informed about their condition and why they were taking medication with most doctors visits focusing on side effect checks alone after confirmation of initial diagnosis.
There also seemed to be considerable stigma attached to having ADHD, with many children either being told or choosing not to mention their disorder to friends or classmates for fear of being teased or bullied.
When asked about what she hopes the publication of the report will achieve, Singh told medwireNews:"I certainly hope that what will happen is that doctors will take up the charge of needing to engage children in these ethical issues so that this becomes part of what can be done in the clinic setting."
When asked about future research, she discussed plans to investigate the effects of meditation training for children with ADHD. "I think meditation will help decrease children's stress levels, which in turn is likely to help them better manage their difficulties in controlling their behavior," she explained.
Singh emphasized that more research on the efficacy of nondrug treatments for ADHD such as cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as drug and nondrug combinations is needed.
"I think we need to get more creative in using drug and nondrug strategies together in helping these children," she concluded.
medwireNews (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012
By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter