Objectives: The prescription of stimulant medication to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder remains topical. Few reports target children's views about taking long-term medication. The aim was to assess child and parent views of stimulant medication. To compare attitudes to medication between two groups of children, those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder taking stimulant medication and those with epilepsy taking anti-epileptic medication.
Method: Forty children (n = 40) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on stimulant medication, and 40 children (n = 40) with epilepsy on anti-epileptic medication formed the study population. A semi-structured interview was carried out with each child and parent. Each parent completed the Dosage and Side-effects Questionnaire and the Attitude to Medication Questionnaire. Each child completed the Attitude to Medication Questionnaire.
Results: Sixty per cent of children (n = 24) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and 62.5% (n = 25) of those with epilepsy knew the name and purpose of their medication. Forty per cent (n = 16) of children in the stimulant group and 32.5% (n = 13) in the anti-epileptic group reported themselves as being non-compliant with medication. In both groups children reported positive aspects to taking medication. More children with epilepsy reported negative aspects. Only 32.5% (n = 13) of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder said that they would tell a friend about their medication, while 55% (n = 22) of the children with epilepsy indicated that they would do so. In both groups parents were better informed than their children were about the purpose of the medication. Parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tended to be more positive about medication than their children and than the parents in the comparison group.
Conclusions: The majority of children and their parents express positive views about the stimulant medication. Children's views about medication compliance and side-effects should be sought, as they may differ significantly from those of their parents. Where parents have noticed positive changes, but children have not, this information can be used therapeutically to help children feel more in control of their behaviour.