Descriptive study shows gaps in diagnostic services for adults with ADHD


The researchers in this descriptive study set out to describe the issues facing a pilot service for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) set up in the north east of England. They gathered data on the total number of referrals, the source of referrals, sex ratio, follow-up treatments, and co-morbid diagnosis for the period of March and October 2009 The study population was adults aged 18-65 years which included adults with mild learning disabilities.

In total in the period studies, 117 adults were referred to the pilot service and 105 people were assessed.

The authors found the most common source of referral (57% of total) to be general practice, (n = 60). A new diagnosis of adult ADHD was made in 47 of all people presenting at the service (39.1%)  In terms of sex ratio, over 80% were male.
58% of those with ADHD (n=55) had a co-morbid diagnosis. A small percentage (around 4%) of referrals to the service came from adult learning disability services.

The authors suggest their initial findings suggest a significant gap in diagnostic services for adults with ADHD.

A pilot service for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a descriptive study, Febin E  Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities 5, 4, 47-52

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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