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Study Finds Minority Children Prescribed ADHD Medication More Likely Than Whites to Discontinue Treatment

5/16/2017
A study in the June 2017 Pediatrics found significant racial differences in how often youth diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed medication continue receiving treatment for the condition. For the study, “Racial and Ethnic differences in ADHD Treatment Quality among Medicaid-Enrolled Youth” (published online May 16), researchers examined Medicaid claims data from nine states and found much higher rates of medication discontinuation and treatment disengagement among minority youth compared to whites among children who received ADHD prescriptions. Compared to whites, Black and Hispanic children were 22.4 and 16.7 percentage points more likely to discontinue medication.  Among those that discontinued medication, the study also examined how often youth either received any psychotherapy services or whether they disengaged from treatment entirely.  Black and Hispanic children were 13.1 and 9.4 percentage points more likely than whites to disengage from treatment, respectively.  Authors of the study, which received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, said their findings are especially concerning because more than seven-tenths of youth that discontinue medication do not receive any type of psychotherapy services for ADHD.  Therefore, the higher rates of medication discontinuation among minority patients also translate into higher rates of stopping treatment.  

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