Current diagnosis and treatment practices for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder with children : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects many children and their families. Given the severity and pervasiveness of ADHD, diagnosis requires a thorough and comprehensive evaluation procedure along with multimodal treatment strategies tailored to the specific needs of the individual child. The present study aimed to identify the current diagnostic and treatment practices for ADHD with children to ascertain their consistency with current scientific research and recommendations. Additionally, the study aimed to highlight cultural issues surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD with Maori and Pacific Islands children. The research was conducted in two stages consisting of two separate samples. First, data were collected from parents/guardians of 47 children currently diagnosed with ADHD via survey based questionnaires. Second, information was elicited, also via questionnaires, from practitioners who provided data for 19 of the children participating in the stage one of the study. Overall, findings from the present study reveal inconsistent application of the recommended diagnostic procedures as well as discrepancies between parent and practitioner reports. In addition, results clearly identified stimulant medication as the main treatment prescribed for children with ADHD. However, the establishment of appropriate ongoing monitoring for treatment effectiveness and possible side effects was lacking. The underuse of systematic behavioural treatments evident from the findings is of concern given that empirically-based literature emphasises the importance of multimodal therapy. Cultural differences identified in the study are discussed and limitations of the research are noted, along with suggestions for future research.