14 Jan 2010

Ministry to look at ADHD treatment guidelines

7:05 am on 14 January 2010

The Ministry of Health will review its guidelines for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), after Australian authorities signalled a move away from drugs.

New draft guidelines in Australia say medication should only be used when sufferers experience significant impairment in a number of settings.

The Ministry of Health says it will review its guidelines to make sure they are consistent with current evidence, though there are no immediate plans for change.

Charles Harrison, from the support group ADDvocate, says the New Zealand approach relies solely on drugs, whereas it's essential to include a variety of treatments.

He says a "one stop shop" should be set up for children with ADHD, involving GPs, psychologists, psychologists, paediatricians and educational and developmental paediatricians.

Mr Harrison says ADHD suffers are at greater risk of depression, addiction and unemployment, so every $1 million spent now would save $10 million in the future.

Associate Professor Julia Rucklidge, from Canterbury University's School of Psychology, says drugs can make an immediate difference to behaviour but do not fix the problem.

She says New Zealand should follow Australia's lead in moving towards a more holistic approach, involving educational and parenting support.

But she admits that would be would be more labour intensive than simply writing a prescription.