Improving ADHD services in Scotland

In 2006, we embarked on a programme of work to look at services for children and young people with ADHD.

We initially set out to investigate:

  • how ADHD services in Scotland are configured and delivered
  • how many children and young people have a diagnosis of ADHD, and
  • whether their care and treatment is delivered in line with the evidence-based national SIGN Guideline 52.

During the following 6 years, children and young people with ADHD, parents/carers, and service providers from across Scotland have helped us to understand:

  • how many children and young people in Scotland are diagnosed with ADHD
  • what services are in place for them
  • how those services are organised and delivered
  • where service development is required, and
  • perhaps, most importantly, what it is like to use services, and what might improve the experience for children and young.

We achieved this in three stages. In this section you will find the detailed reports of our findings on all three stages and associated resources:

Stage 3 – Follow-up review (2011–2012): the implementation review exercise report included a number of recommendations. We wanted to determine to what extent our recommendations have been implemented, and if they have improved services in Scotland for children and young people with ADHD. We were also keen to learn about local innovations and any challenges to service delivery and development.

Stage 2 – Implementation review exercise (2007–2008): we developed a data collection tool, based on the recommendations in SIGN Guideline 52. Each NHS board area received a local report of the implementation review findings, and we also published an overview report.

This stage also included work with the ADHD-project user and parent/carer subgroup (ADHD-PUPS). It was important to find out what service users thought about their treatment and involvement with services. To supplement the information from the questionnaires, we held a one-day conference in November 2007. In 2008, we published the full report of this work.

Stage 1 – Service profiling 2006–2007: we developed a service profiling questionnaire which asked for information about how services for children and young people with ADHD are configured and delivered. Following the analysis of the returned information, small teams of stakeholders met with representatives from each NHS board area. The report of this work was published in March 2007.

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What is ADHD?

Attention deficit and hyperkinetic disorders (ADHD) are among the most commonly diagnosed behavioural disorders in children and young people. The core features of ADHD are persistent and developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and hyperactivity, often with impulsive behaviour.

Why is it important?

Children with ADHD are at risk of a range of other associated problems. These can include:

  • low self esteem
  • academic underachievement
  • poor peer relationships
  • disrupted family relationships
  • accidents, and
  • antisocial behaviour.

ADHD is also associated with an increased risk of other disorders for example, depression and anxiety. Early diagnosis and intervention is crucial for these children and young people.

How common is ADHD?

It is recognised that approximately 5% of the UK’s school age population have ADHD, a condition that is more common in boys than in girls. The point prevalence of the more severe form of ADHD (hyperkinetic disorder) is widely accepted as 1.5% within school-aged children in the UK. At least two thirds of children will continue to have ADHD symptoms through adolescence and, for some, symptoms will persist into adulthood.