In this study we identified child and family-level characteristics that were associated with medication treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder using nationally representative survey data.
National Survey of Children's Health data from 79264 youth 4 to 17 years of age were used. Data were weighted to adjust for the complex survey design of the National Survey of Children's Health. Gender-specific logistic regression models were generated to identify child and family-level characteristics that were collectively associated with current medication status among youth with a reported diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Nationally, 7.8% of youth aged 4 to 17 years had a reported attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, and 4.3% had both a disorder diagnosis and were currently taking medication for the disorder. Current medication treatment among youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder was associated with white race, younger age, English spoken in the home, health care coverage, a health care contact within the last year, and reported psychological difficulties. Gender-specific logistic regression models revealed that, together, younger age, higher income, health care coverage, having psychological difficulties, and a health care contact in the past year were associated with medication use among boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Among girls with the disorder, younger age, psychological difficulties, fair-to-poor paternal mental health status, and a health care contact within the last year were collectively associated with current medication use. CONCLUSIONS. Regardless of gender, younger age, the presence of psychological difficulties, and a recent health care contact were significantly associated with medication treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. However, additional health care access and income variables among boys and paternal mental health status among girls represented gender-specific factors that were also associated with medication treatment for the disorder. Future studies should characterize how and when the burden associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder leads to treatment, support, or services for this prevalent and impairing neurobehavioral disorder.