Challenges in defining the rates of ADHD diagnosis and treatment: Trends over the last decade

Michael Davidovitch, Gideon Koren, Naama Fund, Maayan Shrem, Avi Porath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background: There is a global trend of large increases in the prevalence and incidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to address potential causes of these major changes. Methods: The authors used a large cohort to analyze data employing patients' electronic medical records, with physicians' diagnosis of ADHD, including records of medication purchases. Results: The prevalence of ADHD diagnoses rose twofold from 6.8% to 14.4% between 2005 and 2014 (p<0.001), while the ratio of males to females with ADHD decreased from 2.94 in 2005 to 1.86 in 2014 (p< 0.001). The incidence increased, peaking in 2011 before declining in 2014. ADHD medication usage by children and adolescents was 3.57% in 2005 and 8.51% by 2014 (p< 0.001). Conclusions: We report a dramatic increase in the rate of ADHD diagnoses. One of the leading factors to which we attribute this increase is the physicians' and parents' changed attitude towards diagnosing attention/hyperactivity problems, with more parents appear to consider ADHD diagnosis and treatment as a means to improve their child's academic achievements, commonly with the aid of medications. This change in attitude may also be associated with the dramatic increase in female ADHD diagnosis prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number218
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 Dec 2017


  • ADHD
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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