Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: variation by socioeconomic deprivation

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In England, there is a discrepancy between the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) ascertained from medical records and community surveys. There is also a lack of data on variation in recorded prevalence by deprivation and geographical region; information that is important for service development and commissioning.


Cohort study using data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink comprising 5196 children and young people aged 3-17 years with ADHD and 490 016 without, in 2012.


In 2012, the recorded prevalence of ADHD was 1.06% (95% CI 1.03 to 1.09). Prevalence in the most deprived areas was double that of the least deprived areas (prevalence rate ratio 2.58 (95% CI 2.36 to 2.83)), with a linear trend from least to most deprived areas across all regions in England.


The low prevalence of ADHD in medical records may indicate considerable underdiagnosis. Higher rates in more disadvantaged areas indicate greater need for services in those areas.

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