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ADHD, medication use in children associated with emotional strain, poor health status among caregivers

Monday, October 29 2007 | Comments
Evidence Grade 0 What's This?
Caregivers of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder--especially those of children who are taking drug therapy--experience significantly more emotional strain and poorer physical and mental health status than do caregivers of children without ADHD, a study found.

For this investigation, 2,036 caregivers recruited from a cross-sectional sample of the U.S. population completed the Caregiver Strain Questionnaire (CGSQ) and the Version 1 Short-Form 4-week standard health survey (SF-12v1) and provided demographic data. The respondents represented 508 families who had >=1 child aged 6 to 17 years without ADHD and 1,528 families with >=1 age-matched child who had ADHD. Among the families with children who had ADHD, children from 1,027 of the families received medication, whereas those from the other 501 families did not.

The children with ADHD were more likely to be older, taller, heavier, and male; to have a family history of ADHD, a higher ADHD rating total score, pregnancy/delivery complications, and unmarried parents; and to smoke or drink alcohol. Analyses were adjusted for these factors and for the parents' employment status.

The caregivers of the children with ADHD reported significantly greater emotional strain than did the caregivers of the children without ADHD based on CGSQ global scores, CGSQ objective strain subscale scores, and CGSQ subjective externalized and internalized strain subscale scores (P<.0001 for each).  

The caregivers also reported poorer health status, as measured by the physical component summary score (P=.0015) and mental component summary score (P=.0088) of the SF-12v1, if their children had ADHD.

Among the caregivers of the children who had ADHD, those whose children took medication had significantly higher emotional strain on the CGSQ (global score, P<.0001; CGSQ objective strain subscale score, P<.0001; CGSQ subjective externalized strain subscale score, P=.0131; CGSQ subjective internalized strain subscale, P=.0006), as well as worse mental status as measured by the mental component summary score of the SF-12v1 (P=.0447).

"Although the reasons for this observation [with medication use] were not elucidated by this study, possible explanations include cost of medications, stigma associated with use, worry about adverse events, worry about abuse, or other issues," the investigators postulated. (Zhang HF, et al. Poster B44.)

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