Psychotherapy Underutilized by Children with ADHD

Pharmacy Times, March 2015 Central Nervous System, Volume 81, Issue 3

While evidence suggests that children with ADHD fare better when treated with both stimulant medication and behavior therapy, a study has found that many of the children who are prescribed ADHD medication do not receive psychotherapy.

While evidence suggests that children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) fare better when treated with both stimulant medication and behavior therapy, a study has found that many of the children who are prescribed ADHD medication do not receive psychotherapy.

The study, published as a research letter in the September 22, 2014, edition of JAMA Pediatrics, analyzed the records of over 300,000 children 17 years and younger from 1516 US counties who had been prescribed ADHD medication. The researchers examined how many of those children had received some amount of talk therapy, as well as the number of licensed psychologists available in the children’s respective counties.

The research team found that less than 25% of the children who had been prescribed ADHD medication received any talk therapy during the same year they were given medication, with only 13% having at least 4 therapy visits and a mere 7% having 8 or more visits. The researchers also discovered 200 US counties in which less than 10% of children who were prescribed ADHD medication visited a therapist at all.

“In areas of the country where rates of use are so low, it indicates that many kids with private insurance who could benefit from therapy are not receiving it,” said the study’s lead author Walid F. Gellad, an adjunct scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.