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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;16(4):599-619. doi: 10.1177/1359104510390428. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Making sense of ADHD in practice: a stakeholder review.

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Child and Adolescent Mental Health, South West, UK.


The study aimed to explore and synthesize stakeholders' conceptualizations and solutions concerning ADHD in the context of CAMHS. The participants were 28 stakeholders consisting of seven mental heath professionals, two teachers, seven parents/carers, five children referred for an ADHD assessment, two siblings and five peers. Individual, semi-structured interviews were held with all professionals and parents/carers. The children's interviews used methods tailored for junior age children and were semi-structured, individual and in a group format for the peers. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and the children's pictures were analysed. A thematic analysis was undertaken with ADHD thematically emerging as a confusing mess with conflicts reverberating across all levels of analysis from the intra-psychic world of the child to wider social contexts. Professionals attempt to make sense of this mess, parents experience the emotional impact of the mess and children's identities are shaped by it. A reflective space where complexity, uncertainty and hidden feelings are thought about is postulated to reduce confusion and dissonance, and which in turn would enable the system to become more self aware and less naïve.

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