Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a Chronic Care Paradigm

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Larry Culpepper, MD, MPH; Ronna Fried, EdD

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Postgraduate Medicine:

Volume 125 No. 4


Clinical Focus

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DOI: 10.3810/pgm.2013.07.2680
Abstract: The prevalence and disease burden of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suggests that primary care physicians (PCPs) have an opportunity to improve the functioning and quality of life of a significant number of adult patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides evidence-based clinical practice guidelines that recognize ADHD as a chronic condition, and a large proportion of children with ADHD continue to meet diagnostic criteria as adults. Therefore, the management of ADHD should incorporate principles common to the management of other chronic conditions, including proactive planning for continuity of treatment across the life span and integrated, multidisciplinary health care teams for optimal disease management. This article describes a clinical approach whereby adult ADHD is treated within a chronic care paradigm that prominently features the involvement of the PCP. If PCPs envision ADHD as a chronic illness, similar to asthma or diabetes, they may be less likely to refer individuals to be managed by specialists, and more likely to see their role in coordinating and monitoring adult ADHD care, knowing when and how to bring other resources into play, and when and how to educate patients.

Keywords: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; life span disorder; chronic care models; primary care physician; integrated health care team