, 6:33,
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Date: 04 Oct 2012

Social and emotional difficulties in children with ADHD and the impact on school attendance and healthcare utilization

Abstract

Background

The objective of this study was to examine the impact of co-occurring social and emotional difficulties on missed school days and healthcare utilization among children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methods

Data were from the 2007 U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and were based on parental proxy responses to questions in the Sample Child Core, which includes questions on demographics, health, healthcare treatment, and social and emotional status as measured by questions about depression, anxiety, and phobias, as well as items from the brief version of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Logistic regression was used to assess the association between co-occurring social and emotional difficulties with missed school days and healthcare utilization, adjusting for demographics.

Results

Of the 5896 children aged 6–17 years in the 2007 NHIS, 432 (7.3%) had ADHD, based on parental report. Children with ADHD and comorbid depression, anxiety, or phobias had significantly greater odds of experiencing > 2 weeks of missed school days, ≥ 6 visits to a healthcare provider (HCP), and ≥ 2 visits to the ER, compared with ADHD children without those comorbidities (OR range: 2.1 to 10.4). Significantly greater odds of missed school days, HCP visits, and ER visits were also experienced by children with ADHD who were worried, unhappy/depressed, or having emotional difficulties as assessed by the SDQ, compared with ADHD children without those difficulties (OR range: 2.2 to 4.4).

Conclusions

In children with ADHD, the presence of social and emotional problems resulted in greater odds of missed school days and healthcare utilization. These findings should be viewed in light of the limited nature of the parent-report measures used to assess social and emotional problems.