Open access Pathways to care in children at risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Kapil Sayal, Eric Taylor, Jennifer Beecham, Patrick Byrne (2002)

British Journal of Psychiatry 181 43-48

BACKGROUND: There is underdiagnosis of and low use of specialist services for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). AIMS: To quantify the filters in the help-seeking pathway through primary care and to investigate factors influencing progress for children at risk of ADHD. METHOD: A total of 127 children (5-11 years old) with pervasive hyperactivity who passed each filter (primary care attendance and general practitioner (GP) recognition of disorder) were compared with those who had not. RESULTS: Primary care attendance was only associated with parental perception of the behaviour as problematic (OR 2.11; 95% CI 1.11-4.03). However, GP recognition was related to both parent and child factors - parental request for referral (OR 20.83; 95% CI 3.05-142.08) and conduct problems (OR 1.48; 95% CI 1.04-2.12). GP non-recognition was the main barrier in the pathway to care; following recognition, most children were referred. CONCLUSIONS: Parents can be regarded as the main gatekeepers for access to specialist services.