We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Council Report |

Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Larry S. Goldman, MD; Myron Genel, MD; Rebecca J. Bezman, MD; Priscilla J. Slanetz, MD, MPH; for the Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association
JAMA. 1998;279(14):1100-1107. doi:10.1001/jama.279.14.1100.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Objective.— To deal with public and professional concern regarding possible overprescription of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications, particularly methylphenidate, by reviewing issues related to the diagnosis, optimal treatment, and actual care of ADHD patients and of evidence of patient misuse of ADHD medications.

Data Sources.— Literature review using a National Library of Medicine database search for 1975 through March 1997 on the terms attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity,methylphenidate, stimulants, and stimulant abuse and dependence. Relevant documents from the Drug Enforcement Administration were also reviewed.

Study Selection.— All English-language studies dealing with children of elementary school through high school age were included.

Data Extraction.— All searched articles were selected and were made available to coauthors for review. Additional articles known to coauthors were added to the initial list, and a consensus was developed among the coauthors regarding the articles most pertinent to the issues requested in the resolution calling for this report. Relevant information from these articles was included in the report.

Data Synthesis.— Diagnostic criteria for ADHD are based on extensive empirical research and, if applied appropriately, lead to the diagnosis of a syndrome with high interrater reliability, good face validity, and high predictability of course and medication responsiveness. The criteria of what constitutes ADHD in children have broadened, and there is a growing appreciation of the persistence of ADHD into adolescence and adulthood. As a result, more children (especially girls), adolescents, and adults are being diagnosed and treated with stimulant medication, and children are being treated for longer periods of time. Epidemiologic studies using standardized diagnostic criteria suggest that 3% to 6% of the school-aged population (elementary through high school) may suffer from ADHD, although the percentage of US youth being treated for ADHD is at most at the lower end of this prevalence range. Pharmacotherapy, particularly use of stimulants, has been extensively studied and generally provides significant short-term symptomatic and academic improvement. There is little evidence that stimulant abuse or diversion is currently a major problem, particularly among those with ADHD, although recent trends suggest that this could increase with the expanding production and use of stimulants.

Conclusions.— Although some children are being diagnosed as having ADHD with insufficient evaluation and in some cases stimulant medication is prescribed when treatment alternatives exist, there is little evidence of widespread overdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of ADHD or of widespread overprescription of methylphenidate by physicians.

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

605 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles