"It has to be fixed": a qualitative inquiry into perceived ADHD behaviour among affected individuals and parents in Western Australia

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Background: The use of stimulant medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to improve classroom behaviour and sustained concentration is well known. Achieving a better academic grade has been reported as the prime motivation for stimulant use and is an increasingly discussed topic. The proliferation of stimulant use for ADHD has been a cause for public, medical and policy concern in Australia. This paper explores individuals' perceptions of ADHD, the meaning that the diagnosis carries for them and their attitudes to stimulant medication treatment.Methods: This qualitative study was underpinned by a social constructivist approach and involved semi-structured interviews with eight participants. The participants were parents of children with ADHD or were adults who themselves had been diagnosed with ADHD. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.Results: There were three interrelated yet contradictory overarching themes: (i) An impairment to achieving success, which can be a double-edged sword, but has to be fixed; (ii) Diagnosis as a relief that alleviates fault and acknowledges familial inheritance; (iii) Responsibility to be normal and to fit in with societal expectations. Collectively, these perceptions and meanings were powerful drivers of stimulant use.Conclusions: Paying attention to perceptions of ADHD and reasons for seeking or not seeking stimulant treatment is important when planning appropriate interventions for this condition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number141
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number141
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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