Because ADHD frequently persists into adolescence, and continues to undermine teens' academic and social functioning, most adolescents continue to need treatment. However, as issues of self-direction and autonomy become more important for teens, resistance to treatment for ADHD - medication or otherwise - frequently intensifies and many adolescents stop treatment prematurely. This is a challenge that many parents struggle with.
It is thus important to understand the factors - particularly adolescents' perspectives on treatment - that affect the receipt of ADHD treatment during this critical developmental period. Examining this issue was the focus of a study published recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health [Bussing et al (2011). Receiving treatment for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Do the perspectives of adolescents matter. Journal of Adolescent Health, 49, 7-14.]
Participants were 168 adolescents - about 50% female - and their parents recruited through a public school system in the US. These adolescents screened positive for ADHD in elementary school and were contacted 6 years later for a follow-up assessment. At follow-up, over 60% continued to meet full diagnostic criteria for ADHD and many others still had elevated levels of ADHD symptoms. The researchers were interested in how many adolescents had received ADHD treatment in the past year and the parent and child characteristics that predicted the receipt of treatment.
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