Percentage of children 6-12 years of age and newly dispensed a medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who had appropriate follow-up care. Two rates are reported.
a. Percentage of children who had one follow-up visit with a practitioner with prescribing authority during the 30-Day Initiation Phase.
b. Percentage of children who remained on ADHD medication for at least 210 days and who, in addition to the visit in the Initiation Phase, had at least two additional follow-up visits with a practitioner within 270 days (9 months) after the Initiation Phase ended.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood and can profoundly affect the academic achievement, well-being, and social interactions of children (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that five percent of children have ADHD (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). However, other studies in the US have estimated higher rates in community samples. For example, a study examining data from the National Survey of Children's Health estimated that approximately 9.4% of children 2-17 years of age (6.1 million) had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to parent report in 2016 (Danielson et al., 2016). Among those children, 6 out of 10 (62%) were taking medication for their ADHD and represent 1 out of 20 of all U.S. children. Just under half (47%) received any behavioral treatment for their ADHD in the past year (Danielson et al., 2016).
There are many symptoms associated with ADHD. Children with ADHD may experience significant functional problems, such as school difficulties, academic underachievement, troublesome relationships with family members and peers and behavioral problems (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2000). For instance, recent studies have found that parents whose children have a history of ADHD report significantly more peer problems and a higher rate of non-fatal injuries compared to parents whose children do not have a history of ADHD (Strine et al., 2006; Xiang et al., 2005). Additional studies suggest that there is an increased risk for drug use disorders in adolescents with untreated ADHD (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010). One of the national objectives of the Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 initiative is to increase the proportion of children with mental health problems who receive treatment.
Medication treatment has been found to be effective for managing ADHD, but requires careful monitoring by physicians. Studies have shown that psychostimulants are highly effective for 75-90% of children with ADHD by reducing symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention; improving classroom performance and behavior; and promoting increased interaction with teachers, parents and peers (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999). Some reported adverse effects of stimulant ADHD medications include appetite loss, abdominal pain, headaches, sleep disturbance, decreasing growth velocity, and less commonly, hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms. Additionally, treatments for children with ADHD are frequently not sustained despite the fact that they are at greater risk of significant problems if they discontinue treatment (Wolraich et al., 2011). Effective management mitigates the risk of discontinuing treatment.
The intent of this measure is to ensure timely and continuous follow-up visits for children who are newly prescribed ADHD medication. The goal is to encourage monitoring of children for medication effectiveness, occurrence of side effects and adherence.
Clinical Recommendation Statements
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with ADHD
- Overall Guideline
The key to effective long-term management of the patient with ADHD is continuity of care with a clinician experienced in the treatment of ADHD. The frequency and duration of follow-up sessions should be individualized for each family and patient, depending on the severity of ADHD symptoms; the degree of comorbidity of other psychiatric illness; the response to treatment; and the degree of impairment in home, school, work, or peer-related activities. The clinician should establish an effective mechanism for receiving feedback from the family and other important informants in the patient's environment to be sure symptoms are well controlled and side effects are minimal. Although this parameter does not seek to set a formula for the method of follow-up, significant contact with the clinician should typically occur two to four times per year in cases of uncomplicated ADHD and up to weekly sessions at times of severe dysfunction or complications of treatment.
- Recommendation 6: A Well-Thought-Out and Comprehensive Treatment Plan Should Be Developed for the Patient With ADHD. The treatment plan should be reviewed regularly and modified if the patient's symptoms do not respond. Minimal Standard [MS]
- Recommendation 9. During a Psychopharmacological Intervention for ADHD, the Patient Should Be Monitored for Treatment-Emergent Side Effects. Minimal Standard [MS]
- Recommendation 12. Patients Should Be Assessed Periodically to Determine Whether There Is Continued Need for Treatment or If Symptoms Have Remitted. Treatment of ADHD Should Continue as Long as Symptoms Remain Present and Cause Impairment. Minimal Standard [MS]
American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Practice Guideline for the Diagnosis , Evaluation and Treatment of ADHD in Children and Adolescents
- Action Statement 4: The primary care clinician should recognize ADHD as a chronic condition and, therefore, consider children and adolescents with ADHD as children and youth with special health care needs. Management of children and youth with special health care needs should follow the principles of the chronic care model and the medical home. Grade B: Strong Recommendation
Additionally, in the supplemental information provided along with the 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics Guideline, the following recommendations are made:
- “A face-to-face follow-up visit is recommended by the fourth week of medication, during which clinicians review the responses to the varying doses and monitor adverse effects, pulse, blood pressure, and weight.”
- “Subsequent visits will depend on the response but should occur at least 2 times per year, until it is clear that target goals are progressing and stable, and then periodically as determined by the family and the clinician.”