Age-specific prevalence, incidence of new diagnoses, and drug treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in Germany

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2012 Aug;22(4):307-14. doi: 10.1089/cap.2011.0064. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence and incidence of new diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and assess drug treatment of ADHD in the 3-17 year age group in Germany.

Method: We analysed data from the German Pharmacoepidemiological Research Database (GePaRD) for the years 2004-2006. The GePaRD includes claim records of 14,000,000 members of four statutory health insurances, representing 17% of the German population. The assessment of ADHD diagnoses was based on International Classification of Diseases version 10 (ICD-10) codes in outpatient and hospital data.

Results: In 2005, the age-standardized prevalence and incidence of new diagnoses were 2.5% and 9/1000 person-years, respectively. Both measures were 3-4 times higher for males than for females. Incidence of new ADHD diagnoses increased linearly up to the age of 8 years for boys and 9 years for girls and decreased abruptly thereafter. In the calendar quarter of the initial ADHD diagnosis, 9.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 8.9-9.8%) received methylphenidate or atomoxetine and 36.8% (95% CI 36.1-37.6%) received at least one prescription of either drug within the first year. Initiation of drug treatment and choice of drug were similar for both sexes.

Conclusions: ADHD is a common condition among children and youth in Germany. There are substantial differences by sex in the prevalence and incidence of new ADHD diagnoses, but only a small difference in drug treatment among those diagnosed with ADHD. A relatively low percentage of children receives drug treatment in the first year after the initial diagnosis of ADHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Age Factors
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Prevalence
  • Propylamines / therapeutic use*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Propylamines
  • Methylphenidate
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride