Report: Racial Disparities Exist in ADHD Diagnoses, Treatment

The report’s authors gave no conclusive reasons for the disparity.

Researchers found a disparity in the likelihood that black and Latino children receive treatment for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder compared to their white counterparts.

“There are multiple places where we are missing out for diagnosis and treatment of African American and Latino children,” Dr. Tumaini Coker, one of the study’s authors, explains.

Although black children were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD than white children, they were less likely to be diagnosed or treated for the disorder, and even as around the same percentage of Latino children show symptoms of ADHD as white children, a similar disparity in likelihood of treatment existed, reports CBS News.

The researchers cautioned against reaching any decisive conclusion based on the findings.

“Further research is needed to investigate the observed differences in ADHD diagnosis and treatment rates among different racial and ethnic groups,” Dr. Andrew Adesman says.

Coker offered several possible explanations for the disparity that researches could further analyze.

“There are still other factors that we did not measure that could account for these differences, such as difficulty accessing mental health care services despite insurance, parental perceived discrimination by the health care system, or parental distrust of mental health services care generally,” Coker says.

Researchers followed more than 4,000 children in grades 5-7 and 10 for the study. The students came from 10 public school districts around Birmingham, Ala., 24 districts in Los Angeles County and the largest school district in Houston.

The rate of students nationwide who have been diagnosed with the disorder has skyrocketed in recent years. The study found that 11 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD.

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