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ADHD Not Being Properly Treated in American Children, Study

Update Date: Sep 22, 2014 08:30 PM EDT

American children with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder aren't being properly treated, according to a new study.

New research reveals that less than one in four commercially insured children treated with medication for ADHD also receive psychotherapy. Researchers added that the percentage is significantly lower in many parts of the country.

Researchers said the latest study is the first to illustrate the dramatic variation in the use of talk therapy among American children treated with ADHD medication.

This is important as previous studies revealed that combining ADHD medication with behavioral therapy is more efficient at treating the attention disorder in many children.

"Treatment of ADHD in children generates lots of controversy, primarily because of potential for overuse and abuse of stimulant medications," lead researcher Dr. Walid F. Gellad, an adjunct scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "We wanted to find out among those who receive ADHD medications, how many are also receive billed psychotherapy services? The answer is few, but it actually depends on where you live."

Researchers found that only 13 percent of children using ADHD medications received any talk therapy and 7 percent had eight or more therapy visits.

"In areas of the country where rates of use are so low, it indicates that many kids with private insurance who could benefit from therapy are not receiving it," said Gellad, who also is affiliated with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The findings are published Sept. 22 edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

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