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The diagnostic outcomes of children with suspected attention deficit hyperactivity disorder following multidisciplinary assessment

Authors

  • Daryl Efron,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital,
    2. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia and
    3. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Victoria, Australia
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  • Emma Sciberras

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital,
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Victoria, Australia
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Dr D Efron, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9345 4751; email: daryl.efron@rch.org.au

Abstract

Aim:  To undertake a retrospective analysis of the patients referred with suspected attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to a multidisciplinary clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne between 2004 and 2007. This study aimed to determine the proportion of children diagnosed with ADHD, the frequency of comorbid diagnoses, and the level of functional impairment of referred children.

Methods:  Data regarding the demographic characteristics, clinical features, assessment findings and suggested management of patients who attended the ADHD Assessment Clinic were reviewed.

Results:  Sixty-four children (58 males, 6 females) aged between age 4 and 8 years 11 months (M = 6.84, SD = 1.24) were referred. 43 children (67%) were diagnosed with ADHD and 32 (74%) of these were diagnosed with at least one comorbid condition, most commonly, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD; 51%) and speech/language disorder (23%). Of the 21 children who were not diagnosed with ADHD, approximately one-third were diagnosed with ODD and one-third were diagnosed with a specific learning disorder. Overall, the children referred to the clinic had poor quality of life by caregiver report; however, this did not differ between children who were diagnosed with ADHD and children who were not.

Conclusion:  Comprehensive evaluation of children with suspected ADHD resulted in an alternative primary diagnosis in one-third of cases. Three-quarters of children diagnosed with ADHD had one or more comorbid diagnoses. A multidisciplinary model of assessment can be effective in identifying a range of problems in this patient group, and help to inform targeted interventions.

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