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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 4. doi: 10.1007/s00787-019-01325-5. [Epub ahead of print]

Resumption of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medication in early adulthood: findings from a UK primary care prescribing study.

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University of Exeter Medical School, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.
Primary Care Diagnostics, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.
Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.
Public Health, NIHR CLAHRC South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC), University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.
Medical Statistics, NIHR CLAHRC South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC), University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.


This study aimed to examine the resumption of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) prescriptions in early adulthood in young people whose ADHD prescriptions stopped in adolescence. Whilst prescribing studies indicate that the proportion of those with ADHD stopping treatment in late adolescence remains in excess of the proportion expected to be symptom free, very few studies have examined patterns of resumption amongst young adults previously prescribed medication. Primary care records from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink from 2008 to 2013 were used to examine the outcome of resumption of ADHD prescriptions from age 20 years in a sample of cases with ADHD whose prescriptions stopped aged 14-18 years. A Cox regression model was fitted to explore variables that could theoretically be associated with resumption of prescriptions. Of 1440 cases, 109 (7.6%) had their ADHD prescriptions resumed. Characteristics associated with an increased probability of resumption included female gender, learning disability, referral to adult mental health services, and prescription of antipsychotic medication. In this study, only a small proportion of adolescents who stopped ADHD medication subsequently resumed their prescriptions in primary care. Those that did resume were a more complex group. As many vulnerable individuals with ongoing ADHD symptoms may not have the resources required to surmount the barriers to re-enter services, the implication is that not all those who could benefit from resuming medication are able to do so. The findings raise questions around whether current care models are flexible enough and whether primary care services are adequately supported in managing this group.


ADHD; Adolescents; Prescribing; Transition


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