Parental perception of problems and mental health service use for hyperactivity

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;42(12):1410-4. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200312000-00007.


Objective: To examine predictors of parental perception of hyperactivity as a serious problem and its role in determining the use of specialist mental health services.

Method: A community sample of 5- to 11-year-old children with pervasive hyperactivity (n = 93) was identified. Children whose parents perceived the hyperactivity as a serious problem were compared with those whose parents did not. Predictors of parental perception of problem and the roles of this and child and parent clinical factors in predicting service use were examined.

Results: Controlling for child and parental mental health, the strongest predictor of parental perception of problems was the financial impact of the child's behavior on either parent's work (odds ratio [OR] = 17.43; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.52-86.40). Other effects on the parent's working ability were also important. Parental perception of problems was the strongest predictor of service use (OR = 9.85; 95% CI 1.42-68.50).

Conclusions: The effects of child behavior difficulties on perceptions of caregivers are multidimensional. The impact of hyperactivity on parents' work and family finances is substantial. Mental health service use is increased if these impacts reach the threshold for the parent to perceive the child's behavior as a problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / economics
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parent-Child Relations