Objective: To determine if children treated by community physicians who participated in an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) quality improvement intervention demonstrate symptom and impairment improvements comparable with those achieved in university-based clinical trials.
Design: Case series.
Setting: Rural, suburban, and urban practices, with 28% of the 47 practices serving primarily (>50% of patients) Medicaid-receiving populations.
Participants: A total of 785 children aged between 7 and 11 years were treated for ADHD by community physicians participating in the study. Intervention A total of 158 community physicians from 47 separate practices participated in a quality improvement intervention, the ADHD Collaborative, designed to improve physician adherence to evidence-based ADHD treatment guidelines. The intervention included mapping and redesign of practice office flow to facilitate adherence to American Academy of Pediatrics ADHD guidelines as well as didactic sessions related to diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Medical record reviews were completed at the initial assessment and every 3 months for 1 year to evaluate treatment outcome.
Outcome measures: Improvement in parent- and teacher-rated ADHD symptoms and functional impairment.
Results: Children showed large improvements in parent- and teacher-rated ADHD symptoms, similar to some clinical trials, but made no significant improvements in functional impairment.
Conclusions: Large improvements in ADHD symptoms can be achieved in primary care settings when physicians provide evidence-based ADHD care using medication. Because many children with ADHD continued to have significant functional impairment despite symptom improvement, collaboration with other mental health or educational services in additional to medication appears warranted.