Knowledge and attitudes on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among school teachers in Anuradhapura district, Sri Lanka: a descriptive cross-sectional study

BMJ Open. 2023 Nov 30;13(11):e080039. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080039.


Objective: This study aimed to assess the knowledge and attitude of school teachers from a rural district in a developing country towards children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Design: A population-based descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted using probability proportionate to size cluster sampling.

Setting: This study was conducted in 21 government schools in Anuradhapura district, Sri Lanka.

Participants: The study sample consisted of 458 teachers with a mean age of 41 completed years ranging from 24 to 59 years.

Main outcome measurements: We assessed knowledge, attitudes and sources of information on ADHD using the self-administered, validated Knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (KADD), Teacher Attitudes Towards Inclusion Scale (TAIS) and the Perceived and Actual Sources of Information questionnaires.

Results: The median KADD score was 11 (IQR 8-14) and 45.5% (n=208) of participants lacked sufficient knowledge. Percentages of the correct answers, misconceptions and 'don't know' responses were 28.2%, 24.5% and 45.5%, respectively. The majority of teachers believed that the children with ADHD generally experience more problems in novel situations than in familiar situations (63.5%), a diagnosis of ADHD by itself makes a child eligible for placement in special education (61.1%), and children with ADHD do not often have difficulties organising tasks and activities (61.1%). Some participants (12%) stated that punishment would improve the outcome of the children with ADHD. The attitudes were positive with TAIS 1 and 2 median scores of 46 (IQR 36-58) and 49 (IQR 40-59). The majority of participants relied on informal knowledge gained through their personal experience in the classroom on ADHD (n=337, 76%). The majority of teachers (n=300, 67.7%) preferred to be educated through seminars.

Conclusions: School teachers possess a positive attitude. However, they have poor knowledge and significant misconceptions regarding ADHD which may affect the identification and management.

Keywords: Child & adolescent psychiatry; EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training); MENTAL HEALTH; PSYCHIATRY.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • School Teachers
  • Sri Lanka