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Patient, supporter and primary healthcare professional perspectives on health risks in over 16s with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in England: a national survey study.

BACKGROUND: Current research suggests that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk of physical and mental health disorders. This study aimed to explore these health risks in ADHD from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders.

METHODS: This study forms part of the 'Managing young people with ADHD in Primary care (MAP) study'. A survey developed by the study team was distributed to over 16 year olds with ADHD, their supporters, primary healthcare professionals and health commissioners across England, via social media and through patient/clinical networks (September-October 2022). This survey contained two questions on health risks. Question one asked about views on health risks in ADHD (free text). Question two asked about advice given (options list and free text). Descriptive statistics summarised responses to questions one and two, and qualitative analysis (reflexive thematic analysis) was used to explore free text responses from question one.

RESULTS: 782 participants responded to the MAP survey. Of these, 206 healthcare professionals, 157 people with ADHD and 88 supporters answered question one. The most mentioned perceived risks were substance misuse, sleep disorders, weight management and smoking. More people with ADHD reported disordered eating as a health risk (n = 32) than healthcare professionals (n = 5). Generated themes included perceived health risks, impact of living with ADHD, lack of adequate healthcare, and need for ADHD awareness. In respect to advice given (question two), based on responses from 258 professionals, 162 people with ADHD and 100 supporters, the most common advice discussed in consultation was mental health (n = 149, n = 50 and n = 17 respectively). High numbers of respondents reported not giving/receiving advice on wider health (n = 38, n = 88 and n = 61 respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrate that respondents perceived a range of physical and mental health risks posed by ADHD. These related to difficulties with activities of daily living, as well as healthcare interactions and the impact of core features of ADHD (e.g. impulsivity, emotional dysregulation). These risks are not currently explicitly addressed in United Kingdom national guidance on ADHD. More work is needed to examine and address the broader health outcomes of people with ADHD.

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