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Diagnosing and treating attentional difficulties: a nationwide survey
  1. I McKenzie1,
  2. C Wurr2
  1. 1Glen Acre House Child and Family Service, 21 Acre House Avenue, Lindley, Huddersfield HD3 3BB, UK
  2. 2Cringlebar House, 415 Bradford Road, Leeds LS28 7HQ, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    C Wurr
    Cringlebar House, 415 Bradford Road, Leeds LS28 7HQ, UK; kate.wurr{at}


Aims: To ascertain from paediatricians and child psychiatrists their views regarding the aetiology, assessment, and diagnosis of attentional difficulties in children, and the prescribing of stimulant medication for such difficulties.

Methods: Using a questionnaire devised by the authors, 465 paediatricians and 444 child psychiatrists were surveyed.

Results: The overall response rate was 73%. Some 94% of child psychiatrists and 29% of paediatricians routinely dealt with attentional difficulties. Views on aetiology, classification, and diagnosis were varied. More than 60% of both groups were prepared to prescribe stimulant medication without a formal diagnosis being made. Comorbid conduct disorder and the views of other professionals and of parents have an impact on practice.

Conclusions: This survey demonstrates that there is a range of approaches to attentional difficulties by both paediatricians and child psychiatrists.

  • ADHD, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • ICD, International Classification of Diseases
  • NICE, National Institute for Clinical Excellence
  • SM, stimulant medication
  • assessment
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • hyperkinetic disorder
  • prescribing practice
  • professional attitudes

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