Medication dispensing for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder to New Zealand youth

N Z Med J. 2020 Sep 25;133(1522):84-95.


Aims: Global trends show an increase in medication dispensing for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in young people over time. The current study aimed to examine whether similar trends were observed in New Zealand youth over the period of 2007/08 to 2016/17.

Methods: We estimated the prevalence in ADHD medication dispensing using national pharmaceutical data for each fiscal year from 2007/08 to 2016/17 in approximately 2.4 million New Zealand youth aged 1-24 years. We also examined whether trends varied by sociodemographic factors.

Results: The total dispensing prevalence almost doubled from 516 per 100,000 to 996 per 100,000 over the study period. Males had a consistently higher dispensing prevalence relative to females. Young people aged 7-17 years had the highest dispensing prevalence. The most deprived quintile had a slightly lower dispensing prevalence relative to other quintiles. Ethnic differences in dispensing prevalence were apparent, with deprivation differences also existing within most ethnic groups.

Conclusions: Overall, our study showed an increase in ADHD medication use by young people in New Zealand, similar to international findings. Further research is needed into why disparities in dispensing prevalence occur across ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult