Utilization of alternative therapies in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder


  • TG Stubberfield,

  • JA Wray,

  • TS Parry

  • TG Stubberfield, MBBS, FRACP, Paediatric Registrar. JA Wray, MBBS, FRACP, Paediatric Registrar. TS Parry, MBBS, DCH, FRACP, Director and Senior Paediatrician.

Correspondence: JAWray State Child Development Centre, 4–16 Rheola Street, West Perth, WA 6005, Australia


Objective: To identify the prevalence of use, the referral patterns and the perceived benefit of alternative therapy in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methodology: A mailed questionnaire survey was undertaken in June 1993, of the use of various therapies by families of 381 children with ADHD. The respondent rate was 76%.

Results: Of respondents, 69% were using stimulant medication and 64% had used or were using a non-prescriptional therapy. Diet therapies were the most commonly used alternative therapy (60%). There was no statistical difference in the prevalence of use of other therapies between the medicated and non-medicated groups. The non-medicated group reported more benefit from some alternative therapies. Physicians were commonly involved in the suggestion to try a modified diet. School teachers, family and friends were the main source of suggestion of alternative therapies.

Conclusions: Clinicians should be aware of the range of alternative therapies and of their frequent use by families of children with attentional problems.