Objectives: There are few studies exploring parental perceptions of the diagnosis and overall treatment of their children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This community-based study was conducted to consider this important aspect of care.
Methods: A total of 7 226 (65%) parents responded to a community survey of 11 184 children aged 10-12 years living in northern Sydney in 2000, out of which 278 children with ADHD were identified. Their parents completed an anonymous questionnaire covering their perceptions relating to diagnosis, treatment and overall management.
Results: Only 66% of parents recalled the use of questionnaires or rating scales. There were 82% of children who had trialed medication and 66% of these were still taking it. Behavioural intervention had occurred in 42% of the children. Non-conventional treatments, most commonly elimination diet and/or fatty acid supplementation, had been used in 71% of the children. These were considered helpful in one-third of cases. A total of 55% of parents reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their child's care. Parents were more likely to report satisfaction when their children were on medication and when reviews were held at least 6 monthly. Lack of educational support and teachers' understanding of ADHD were identified as ongoing issues.
Conclusion: Parental responses suggested that adherence to recommended diagnostic guidelines was inadequate. Behavioural intervention was underutilized despite its documented positive role. Non-conventional therapies were widely used and considered helpful in one-third of the children who used them. Use of stimulant medication and frequent reviews were more likely to be associated with overall management satisfaction.