Aims Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that attracts much media attention and controversy. A critical review of the literature found a knowledge gap regarding perceptions of ADHD, particularly teachers' opinions. The aims of this study were:
To elicit the views of education professionals regarding ADHD.
To collect information that may be used to implement targeted delivery of health education to schools.
Methods Eight educational professionals were interviewed from four schools. Interviews were conducted using a semi-structured format. Interview transcripts were analysed using a qualitative framework that drew on aspects of Grounded Theory and content analysis.
Results Knowledge: Education professionals had a reasonable working understanding of ADHD, but would like more training. All were able to start the referral process for an undiagnosed child with suspected ADHD.
Perceptions Several themes emerged from the data: Personalisation, Conceptualisation, Stigma, Diagnostic Value, Benefits, Overcoming Adversity, and Relationships. Educators draw upon personal experiences to gain understanding of the condition. They think of ADHD in a practical manner, focussing on triggers, symptoms, and management strategies. They are concerned about potential labelling or stigma, but are able to see the value in the diagnosis. The educators could also see the benefits of the condition itself. They encouraged young people to achieve, and overcome any difficulties they may have. They also reflected on the importance of good relationships between all involved.
Satisfaction with Services The educators were satisfied with the service they receive from local ADHD teams. They would like more training. The main complaint was about a lack of communication or information not being shared.
Conclusions All healthcare professionals should be aware of the importance of communication. They should remember the important roles that school play, and provide information where possible, whilst not compromising confidentiality. Training could be provided to educational staff in order to empower them to develop their own in-house training and management strategies for children with behavioural difficulties.