Aim This study investigated the relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and the prevalence of ADHD from cross-sectional study of 3 socio-economically distinct regions in North West of England.
Method Patients diagnosed with ADHD using standard clinical procedures based on DSM-IV criteria by the community paediatric services in Liverpool, St Helens/Knowsley and Warrington districts were studied in relation to the census derived social deprivation data (Index of Multiple Deprivation scores 2007).
Results Warrington is a relatively affluent area while the other 2 districts are among the most deprived areas of England (table 1). The prevalence of ADHD was significantly associated with the degree of deprivation in a linear fashion in both Warrington and Liverpool districts, while showing a bimodal distribution in St Helens/Knowsley with a higher peak in the most affluent Quintiles of the community (figure 1).
Conclusion Socioeconomic deprivation appears to be significantly associated with the prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents living in the North West of England, as demonstrated by very high coefficients of correlation (up to 1.0).
A bimodal distribution of prevalence was found only in the district with the lowest rate of ADHD prevalence. This suggests that the more affluent parents are more likely to seek for medical help and diagnosis first in the presence of limited service delivery/coverage. As the rate of diagnosis and pick-up rate improves, progressively more patients from the deprived areas of the society are diagnosed, and their overall numbers eventually surpass those of children from the more affluent backgrounds.