Public knowledge, beliefs, and treatment preferences concerning attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Jane D. McLeod, Danielle L. Fettes, Peter S. Jensen, Bernice A. Pescosolido, Jack K. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Objective: This study aimed to understand the level of public knowledge about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), treatment preferences for the disorder, and their sociodemographic correlates. Methods: A short battery of questions about ADHD was included in the 2002 General Social Survey (N= 1, 139). In face-to-face interviews, respondents answered questions about whether they had heard of ADHD, what they knew about ADHD, their beliefs about whether ADHD is a "real" disease, and opinions about whether children with ADHD should be offered counseling or medication. Results: Just under two-thirds of respondents (64%) had heard of ADHD; most could not provide detailed information about the disorder. Women and those with higher levels of education were more likely to have heard of ADHD; African Americans, members of other nonwhite racial and ethnic groups, and older respondents were less likely to have heard of ADHD. Among respondents who had heard of ADHD, 78% said they believed ADHD to be a real disease; women, white respondents, and persons with higher income most often endorsed that belief. Most respondents (65%) endorsed the use of both counseling and medication, although counseling was endorsed as a sole treatment more often than medication. There were few sociodemographic differences in treatment preferences. Conclusions: The public is not well informed about ADHD. Future media and educational efforts should seek to provide accurate information about ADHD, with a special effort to reach specific populations such as men, nonwhite minority groups, and older Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-631
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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