Researchers have identified the key factors that can improve outcomes for children with ADHD. This disorder is estimated to cost Australia US$13 billion annually in economic and social losses.
Research by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute MCRI and published in PediatricsThis highlighted the importance to identify academic, behavioural, and social functioning problems in the first year of school and empower parents and teachers to intervene early.
The Journal of Attention DisordersThe Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AAPDA), Deloitte Access Economics, and MCRI researchers led the study that revealed the true economic and social cost of ADHD for the Australian community.
The 2018/2019 financial years saw ADHD costs in Australia reach US$12.75 Billion or US$14,575 for each person.
Professor Daryl Efron, MCRI Associate, stated that there was little evidence to support the effects of time on ADHD symptoms and impairments.
The PediatricsOver three years, 477 children aged seven from the Children’s Attention Project were followed and their performance was compared to those without ADHD. Only a few participants were given medication.
The study showed that ADHD children with a poor working memory at age 7 had lower academic performance at age 10. ADHD symptoms severity was linked to poor emotional-behavioral outcomes. Children with ADHD who also had symptoms of autism spectrum disorder at seven years old had lower emotional and social functioning by age 10.
Associate Professor Efron stated that ADHD children can have persistent problems and early treatment could help improve their outcomes.
“The predictors of worse outcomes for those with ADHD were significant regardless if children meet the diagnostic criteria. This suggests that clinicians should monitor all children with symptoms, even if they do not meet the diagnostic threshold,” he stated.
“Our results show that ADHD management requires a comprehensive clinical approach. This includes symptom management as well as identification and management for other conditions that may coexist with ADHD.
Associate Professor Efron stated that ADHD children with academic delays could be identified and treated by teachers without formal assessment.
Before the Journal of Attention DisordersPaper no international studies have comprehensively mapped ADHD’s economic and social costs across multiple areas, including both children and adults.
Professor Mark Bellgrove, President of AADPA, stated that the data would help shine a light onto ADHD as a serious condition in Australia and would hopefully improve government policy.
The study found that ADHD in Australia was associated with a total of US$7.45 trillion in financial costs. The financial total includes productivity loss (mostly due absenteism, presenteism and lower employment) of US$6billion, US$321.1m in health system costs, US$74.1m in education costs, US$321.1m in crime and US$215m in justice system costs, and US$790.9m deadweight losses as a result of the need to levy taxes for government expenditures on services and programs.
The non-financial cost of ADHD-related loss of wellbeing, reduced quality of living, and premature deaths was US$5.31 Billion.
Professor Emma Sciberras, Associate Professor at Deakin University, said that ADHD has a significant socioeconomic impact and burden. She encouraged investment and policy changes to improve ADHD diagnosis and treatment.
She stated that the data shows ADHD’s significant public health importance and the need to expand clinical services for the condition as well as increase research investment.
ADHD is a condition that affects 3.2 percent (814,500) and one in 20 children in Australia.
Professor David Coghill of the University of Melbourne and MCRI stated that ADHD services need to be quickly addressed because of structural issues.
He said that ADHD young people face a particular barrier to care. This is because there is a high chance of them losing their treatment while they transition from paediatric to youth or adult services.
“The complex reasons are poor transition planning, insufficient services and professionals in the area, life transitions occurring simultaneously, and the shift towards independence during adolescence.
“There are also ways to improve screening that can identify ADHD-prone individuals early in life. This will help reduce the associated costs.
Professor Coghill stated that 81% of financial costs are due to lost productivity. More workplace support is needed to help people with ADHD.
He said that medication is likely to have multiple functional benefits. Additionally, adjustments in the workplace could be considered. However further research is needed in order to prove the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in real life.
Researchers from The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash University, La Trobe University and National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration, in the UK, The University of Sydney and Joondalup Child Development Centre, University of Western Australia and Deloitte Access Economics contributed to one or both of these studies.