What's behind our survey on ADHD?

What's behind our survey on ADHD?

Published: July 2010

Consumer Reports surveys of patient experiences provide real-life accounts of living with a health condition. This survey is designed to answer our questions about parents' experiences with their child's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: How their children received the diagnosis of ADHD, the treatment providers they visited, the medications they tried, the strategies they tried for managing the condition, and the costs of treatment.

The sample was drawn from Knowledge Networks' nationally representative online panel, which was recruited through a combination of random-digit-dialing and address-based sampling. The online survey was fielded in July and August 2009. The 934 Americans who answered this survey were from different geographic regions and ethnic groups and came from a range of educational and economic backgrounds.

All were parents of children (under the age of 18) who had received a diagnosis of ADHD. The bulk of this report comes from the 785 respondents who said their child visited a professional for treatment of ADHD within the past 12 months, and the 676 who reported that their child tried medication within the past three years (95 percent had visited a professional in the past year as well). Since the vast majority of respondents tried medication at some point, we cannot compare outcomes between those who used medication and those who did not.

One advantage of our survey over a clinical trial, which studies treatments under controlled conditions, is that clinical trials often prescreen candidates and exclude those who do not meet specific health criteria. However, clinical studies are still valuable because they are the most definitive method we have for determining whether a treatment really works.

Our goal is to provide consumers with both the patient perspective provided from the survey and the research evidence so they are better prepared for conversations with professionals. With a complex condition like ADHD, it is critically important to involve a team of health-care providers as treatment decisions are made and monitored.

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