Parents’ responses to three specific questions alert their children’s doctors to screen for ADHD. Responses to these questions alert a computer based support system (CHICA) that notifies their children’s doctors of possible ADHD, according to information from Indiana University released September 24. Doctors using this system were more likely to screen for ADHD and make medication adjustments, report researchers from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University.
The three ADHD questions
Parents of children aged between 6 and 12 years were asked the following questions while in their pediatricians’ waiting rooms:
- Does your child OFTEN make careless mistakes or not pay close attention to details, causing problems at home or school?
- Does your child OFTEN have difficulty remaining seated when asked to do so, causing problems at home or school?
- Does your child OFTEN have a hard time paying attention to tasks or play, causing problems at home or school?
If parents’ answers were yes, the Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation (CHICA) system was alerted. Then, the CHICA system made recommendations to the children’s doctors to screen for ADHD during the children’s visits.
Researchers found that doctors using this system were more likely to screen for ADHD and to request additional information from teachers and parents. "We know what to do for kids who have ADHD, but we don't pick up kids early enough and we are missing too many," said Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., the first author of this study. "Despite the existence of authoritative guidelines to assist doctors in identifying and managing ADHD, there's ample evidence that pediatricians … are diagnosing and treating this disorder suboptimally. Proper diagnosis and treatment can change the course of a child's life.”
Over 9 percent of US children have an ADHD diagnosis according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these children are not diagnosed until they reach age seven reports the American Psychiatric Association.
Although parents may consider their children hyperactive, it is when children’s activities significantly interfere with their lives at home, at school or with other children that ADHD should be considered says the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). AACAP states that some common symptoms of ADHD in children include:
- trouble paying attention
- inattention to details and making careless mistakes
- being easily distracted
- inability to stay seated
- running or climbing excessively
- always "on the go"
- talking too much and interrupting others
- blurting out answers
"Use of a Computerized Decision Aid for ADHD Diagnosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial" appears in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics.