Assessing race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) relationships with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis, treatment, and access to care has yielded inconsistent results often based only on parent-report. In contrast, this study used broader ADHD diagnostic determination including case-definition to examine these relationships in a multisite elementary-school-based sample.
Secondary analysis of children with and without ADHD per parent and teacher-reported Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria evaluated SES, race/ethnicity, and other variables through simple bivariate/multivariable models within and across: parent-reported diagnosis, medication treatment, and meeting ADHD study case-definition.
The total sample included 51.9% male, 51.3% White, and 53.1% with private insurance; 10% had parent-reported ADHD diagnoses while 8.3% met ADHD study case-definition. In multivariable models, White children had higher odds of parent-reported diagnoses than Black, Hispanic, and Other Race/Ethnicity children (p < 0.05), but only Hispanic children had lower odds of being case-positive (<0.05); males and children in single-parent households had higher odds of parent-reported diagnoses and being case-positive (p < 0.05); and children who were White, male, and had health insurance had higher odds of taking medication (p < 0.05). Among children who were case-positive, those with Medicaid, White, and 2-parent statuses had higher odds of parent-reported diagnoses (p < 0.05).
Children with underlying ADHD appear more likely to have assessment/medication treatment access if they are White, male, have health insurance (particularly Medicaid), and live in 2-parent households. While boys and children raised by single parents may have higher rates of ADHD diagnoses, false-positive diagnostic risk also appeared higher, inviting further investigation.