Identification of children at risk of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
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In many countries, the majority of children who have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are undiagnosed and there is limited recognition of child mental health problems in primary care. Teachers may be well placed to identify unrecognised children and to facilitate their referral to specialist services. Despite this, there has been limited intervention research addressing teacher identification of ADHD. This study aims to examine whether an educational intervention about ADHD for teachers improves their recognition of children at risk of ADHD.
A before and after investigation of an educational intervention about ADHD for teachers took place in 6 primary schools (involving 96 class teachers and 2672 pupils). Teacher recognition was compared against a diagnostic algorithm for ADHD caseness that utilised both parent and teacher ratings. Changes in teacher recognition of children with probable ADHD, as well as predictors of recognition, were examined.
Following the intervention, there was an increase in the proportion of children regarded by teachers as having probable ADHD. There was also improved agreement between teacher recognition and the diagnostic algorithm. Teacher views that a child had probable ADHD were based on both the severity of symptoms and the impact of these problems on the teacher and the class.
It is feasible to deliver an educational intervention addressing teacher identification of ADHD in routine practice. This was associated with an improvement in the ability of teachers to more accurately identify children at risk of ADHD. The provision of a brief educational intervention for teachers could assist in improving the identification of undiagnosed children with ADHD in the community.