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ADHD Rates Up in Veterans

Rates more than doubled for veterans in the VA health system from 2009 to 2016

MONDAY, April 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The number of veterans being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is increasing, according to a study published in the March issue of Medical Care.

Andrew C. Hale, Ph.D., from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan, and colleagues investigated the prevalence and incidence of ADHD in people seeking care at all primary care and mental health clinics within the VA system between the fiscal years of 2009 (FY09) and 2016 (FY16).

The researchers found that an average of 5.09 million VA patients visited a primary care or mental health clinic each year. Over the study period, the prevalence of ADHD increased from 0.23 percent (approximately 6,500 patients) to 0.84 percent (approximately 30,000 patients). This 258 percent increase was seen across all demographics. The incidence of ADHD increased from 0.14 to 0.48 percent (a 240 percent increase), and was lowest in black and older veterans.

“The age-adjusted prevalence and incidence of ADHD in a sample of veterans using primary care or mental health clinic services more than doubled over the eight-year period from FY09 to FY16. These figures are similar to increases in population trends observed in youths and adults,” the authors write. “Overall increases and demographic differences in adult veterans diagnosed with ADHD suggest a growing need to establish the reliability of diagnostic practices to ensure appropriate and equitable care.”

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