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Clin Drug Investig. 2006;26(2):75-90.

Healthcare use, social burden and costs of children with and without ADHD in Flanders, Belgium.

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Department of Economics and Mathematics, Faculty of Applied Economics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.



The purpose of this study was to provide quantitative information on the economic, social and emotional burden borne by families of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and on the public healthcare costs of a child with ADHD in Flanders, Belgium, and to compare costs of ADHD children with those of siblings without the disorder.


A pilot-tested questionnaire was sent to all members of the Flemish ADHD society in February 2003. Parents were asked to record utilisation of healthcare, social care and other non-medical resources for their ADHD child and his/her sibling. In addition, data were collected on ADHD severity (IOWA-Conners Rating Scale) and on the sociodemographic and economic characteristics of the parents. Parents' out-of-pocket and public annual costs were calculated using tariffs. These costs were corrected for several confounding variables using general linear model (GLM) estimates.


ADHD affects school results and parents' productivity and places a psychological and emotional burden on the family. Childhood ADHD also results in a significantly higher use of healthcare: ADHD children have a significantly higher probability of visiting a general practitioner (60.3% vs 37.4%) and a specialist (50.9% vs 12.9%); they also visit the emergency department significantly more often (26% vs 12.1%), and they are hospitalised significantly more often (14% vs 8.4%). Consequently, Flemish children with ADHD incur significantly higher medical costs than their siblings without the disorder. Even after correction for several covariates, these cost differences are still striking. In fact, compared with their sibling, the annual cost for an ADHD child is more than six times higher for the parent (Euro 588.3 vs Euro 91.5), and public costs are twice as high (Euro 779 vs Euro 371.3) [year of costing 2002].


Childhood ADHD results in significantly higher use of healthcare and adversely affects academic achievements and parents' productivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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