A new research study finds that the severity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms impacts a child’s health-related quality of life and challenges the family environment.
Baylor University researchers found that both the child and the parent agreed that as symptoms progressed in severity, so did the negative impacts, both for the child and for the family.
Researchers compared children with ADHD in different types of treatment settings and found that children with ADHD being treated by a general pediatrician have better overall health-related quality of life and family functioning than children with ADHD being treated in a psychiatric clinic.
The study is the first to demonstrate greater negative impact on quality of life and family function in children with ADHD treated at a psychiatric clinic compared to those treated at a general pediatric clinic.
“These findings have potential implications for the health care needs of children with ADHD,” said study author Christine Limbers, Ph.D.
“The finding that overall agreement between children and parent ratings of the child’s quality of life was low underscores the importance of evaluating both children’s and parents’ perspectives regarding quality of life in routine assessment in clinical practice and clinical trials for children with ADHD, since their different perspectives potentially provide unique information.”
The study can be found online in the Journal of Attention Disorders.
In the study, nearly 200 families were surveyed and evaluated for health-related quality of life and family functioning — such as physical, emotional, social and family relationships — from both the perspective of children with physician-diagnosed ADHD and their parents.
Researchers then compared those results to a sample of healthy children and to children with ADHD being seen in a psychiatric clinic.
Researchers found children with ADHD being treated at a general pediatric clinic reported fewer problems with quality of life compared to a sample of children with ADHD being treated in a psychiatric clinic.
The study also showed that while children with ADHD treated by a general pediatrician have better overall health-related quality of life than children being seen in a psychiatric clinic, they still experience significant impairments in health-related quality of life compared to healthy children, particularly in psychosocial functioning, which encompasses a wide range of behaviors related to social and emotional well being.
Investigators say that parental worry and family relationships are key areas to address in a family intervention. These areas include a lack of communication between family members as well as conflicts between family members in regard to performance of daily family activities. Often family activities will take more time and effort and many parents will have difficulty finding time to finish household tasks.
“The data suggest that from the perspective of parents, child social functioning may have the strongest association with impaired family functioning. Consequently, it does not seem sufficient for interventions to only address social functioning with the child,” Limbers said.
“Teaching parents strategies for coping with their child’s social impairments is also critical.”
Source: Baylor University