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The Process of seeking treatment : how families access care for children with ADHD

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Hermus, Ryan J.
Jambunathan, Jaya
MS, Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
May 2011
Attention-deficit hyperactivity children; Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Treatment
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health diagnoses in children and adolescents. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children (Bloom & Cohen, 2007), 4.5 million children in the United States have ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a chronic condition that can significantly impact academic performance, social interaction, self-esteem, and family function. Abundant research exists regarding treatment modalities, pharmacotherapy options, effectiveness of different treatment modalities, and family perceptions and attitudes towards ADHD treatment. Little is known about the experiences and processes families undergo when seeking treatment for their children who display signs and symptoms of ADHD. The purpose of this study was to explore the process by which families seek treatment for their children with ADHD. Glazer and Strauss'(1967) Grounded Theory was utilized as the theoretical framework for this study. This was an inductive qualitative design utilizing naturalistic inquiry. A convenience sample of seven parents from a Midwestern outpatient child and adolescent mental health clinic was recruited by mail. One interview was conducted as a pilot interview and was not included in data analysis. Data collection included demographic questionnaires and unstructured interviews, using open-ended questions to elicit information related to the process of seeking treatment for families of children with ADHD. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and Collaizi's (1978)method of qualitative analysis noting recurring themes. An overarching theme, four major themes, and multiple subthemes were identified. The overarching theme was Journeying to Make Meaning of ADHD. Major themes included Getting Started, Gathering Information, Understanding, and Following Things Through. The significance of the topic to primary care is related to the ability for providers to better understand how families seek treatment for their children so that proper community resources, education, and interventions may be presented to families and their children in a timely manner.
A Clinical Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
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