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Psychiatr Serv. 2007 May;58(5):626-31.

Public knowledge, beliefs, and treatment preferences concerning attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Department of Sociology, Indiana University, 1020 E. Kirkwood Ave., Ballantine Hall 744, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.



This study aimed to understand the level of public knowledge about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), treatment preferences for the disorder, and their sociodemographic correlates.


A short battery of questions about ADHD was included in the 2002 General Social Survey (N=1,139). In face-to-face interviews, respondents answered questions about whether they had heard of ADHD, what they knew about ADHD, their beliefs about whether ADHD is a "real" disease, and opinions about whether children with ADHD should be offered counseling or medication.


Just under two-thirds of respondents (64%) had heard of ADHD; most could not provide detailed information about the disorder. Women and those with higher levels of education were more likely to have heard of ADHD; African Americans, members of other nonwhite racial and ethnic groups, and older respondents were less likely to have heard of ADHD. Among respondents who had heard of ADHD, 78% said they believed ADHD to be a real disease; women, white respondents, and persons with higher income most often endorsed that belief. Most respondents (65%) endorsed the use of both counseling and medication, although counseling was endorsed as a sole treatment more often than medication. There were few sociodemographic differences in treatment preferences.


The public is not well informed about ADHD. Future media and educational efforts should seek to provide accurate information about ADHD, with a special effort to reach specific populations such as men, nonwhite minority groups, and older Americans.

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