BACKGROUND:

Although many efforts have been made to improve the quality of care delivered to children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in community-based pediatric settings, little is known about typical ADHD care in these settings other than rates garnered through pediatrician self-report.

METHODS:

Rates of evidence-based ADHD care and sources of variability (practice-level, pediatrician-level, patient-level) were determined by chart reviews of a random sample of 1594 patient charts across 188 pediatricians at 50 different practices. In addition, the associations of Medicaid-status and practice setting (ie, urban, suburban, and rural) with the quality of ADHD care were examined.

RESULTS:

Parent- and teacher-rating scales were used during ADHD assessment with approximately half of patients. The use of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria was documented in 70.4% of patients. The vast majority (93.4%) of patients with ADHD were receiving medication and only 13.0% were receiving psychosocial treatment. Parent- and teacher-ratings were rarely collected to monitor treatment response or side effects. Further, fewer than half (47.4%) of children prescribed medication had contact with their pediatrician within the first month of prescribing. Most variability in pediatrician-delivered ADHD care was accounted for at the patient level; however, pediatricians and practices also accounted for significant variability on specific ADHD care behaviors.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is great need to improve the quality of ADHD care received by children in community-based pediatric settings. Improvements will likely require systematic interventions at the practice and policy levels to promote change.

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