MICHIGAN STATE (US)—Financial hurdles and a lack of both information and culturally competent health care providers combine to make blacks and Latinos far less likely than whites to consider treatment for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“ADHD has multiple causes and multiple treatment approaches are warranted,” says John Carlson, associate professor of school psychology at Michigan State University.

More than 4.5 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States, making it one of the most common childhood disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disorder, characterized by impulsive behavior and inattentiveness, often lasts into adulthood. Causes include both biological and environmental factors, the study said.

Medication such as Ritalin has shown to decrease hyperactivity in children with ADHD, while counseling such as behavior therapy and parent training can lead to improved relationships with family and friends, Carlson says. The treatments can be successfully combined to treat severe behavioral problems.

In the Journal of Attention Disorders, Carlson and colleagues argue schools and communities should do a better job of getting information to minority families about the combined benefit of medication and counseling for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The “significant increase in children diagnosed with ADHD” intensifies the need for parents to be informed of all treatment options, says study coauthor Andy Pham, a recent PhD graduate.

“Parents may bring different cultural beliefs to the treatment context,” Pham explains. “Therefore practitioners such as physicians and school psychologists must build on their own cultural knowledge when working with families to determine the best course of action.”

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