, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 396-402
Date: 10 Aug 2010

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in African American Youth

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Abstract

This article examines attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in African American youth. Tackling the myths and misinformation surrounding ADHD in the African American community can be one of the most difficult issues in mental illness circles. There is a lot of conflicting information about how African Americans are diagnosed, examined, and treated. This article clarifies some of the misconceptions and offers some comprehensibility to the issue of ADHD in African American youth. The incidence of ADHD is probably similar in African Americans and Caucasians. However, fewer African Americans are diagnosed with and treated for ADHD. That reality flies in the face of some perceptions in many African American communities. Reasons for this disparity have not been fully clarified and are most likely complex and numerous. Some barriers to treatment are driven by the beliefs of patients and their families, while others are the result of limitations in the health care system. Patient-driven obstacles to care include inadequate knowledge of symptoms, treatment, and consequences of untreated ADHD and fear of overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis. System-driven limitations include a lack of culturally competent health care providers, stereotyping or biases, and failure of clinicians to evaluate the child in multiple settings before diagnosis.