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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that can affect people throughout their life course. A social gradient exists in the prevalence of ADHD in the UK. Studies in other countries have shown that social gradients also exist in the receipt of medication for ADHD. Socioeconomic position is potentially an unrecognised and modifiable factor in children and young people's receipt of medication for ADHD in the UK.
The aim of the study was to investigate if socioeconomic position could explain in part whether or not children and young people in Sheffield are receiving medication for ADHD.
We used multivariate logistic regression modelling to investigate whether socioeconomic position could explain variation in receipt of medication for ADHD in children and young people in a cross-sectional study. We collected data from 1354 children and young people with a diagnosis of ADHD across three Sheffield centres between January and December 2016. Independent variables were age, gender, religion, ethnicity, comorbidities, and Index of Multiple Deprivation decile (derived from home postcode).
Our results showed a social gradient in the receipt of medication for ADHD (P<0.01); an increase in one decile of the Index of Multiple Deprivation was associated with 10% lower odds of receipt of medication for ADHD (adjusted odds ratio 0.90, 95% CI 0.84–0.97).
Children and young people from more deprived backgrounds are more likely to receive medication for ADHD. This is the first time that a social gradient in children and young people's receipt of medication for ADHD has been shown in a UK sample.
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