New guidelines for the treatment and support of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are “a real advance” in the standard of care for those affected, it has been claimed.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has set out a quality standard for the care of children and adults diagnosed with the condition, which is the most common behavioural condition in the UK and has symptoms including a short attention span and hyperactivity.
The new guidance includes referring those suspected of having ADHD to a specialist for assessment, referring parents or carers of children with ADHD to a parent training programme, arranging an annual specialist review for those taking drug treatment, and offering psychological group treatment to children and young people with moderate ADHD.
Chris Hollis, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Nottingham, a member of the committee that developed the quality standard, said: “ADHD is increasingly recognised as a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition characterised by difficulties with organisation, distractibility, restlessness and impulsivity, which can have a major impact on education, work, and relationships.
“Although highly effective treatments exist that can change lives, ADHD can go unrecognised and untreated, and provision of specialist services, particularly for adults, remains very patchy.
“The NICE quality standard for ADHD represents a real advance by setting a benchmark for improved recognition, diagnosis and delivery of evidence-based treatments across the lifespan of a person with this condition.”
Dr Matt Hoghton, medical director of the clinical innovation and research centre of the Royal College of GPs, which endorsed the quality standard, said: “The NICE quality standard is important to help children, young people and adults with ADHD get a diagnosis quickly so that they and their families can be helped as soon as possible.
“Mental health comorbidities, transition issues and long delays in diagnosis, particularly in adults, are recurrent problems for people with ADHD.
“The emphasis on a specialist annual review will help ensure that any drug treatment should be part of an ongoing comprehensive psychological, behavioural, education and occupation plan.”
It is estimated that 2%-5% of school children and young people have ADHD and 8% of adults. By the age of 25, 15% of those diagnosed with the condition in childhood still have a full range of symptoms and 65% have symptoms that affect their daily lives.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE said: “ADHD can affect learning, behaviour and development in children, and for adults with the disorder it can be associated with forgetfulness, mood swings, and extreme impatience.
“This quality standard outlines how to deliver the very best care and support for both adults and children with the condition.”
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