Suicidal ideation and attempts in the United States of America among stimulant-treated, non-stimulant-treated, and untreated patients with a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Journal of Affective Disorders, April 2020

Past studies of the link between pharmacological treatments (both stimulant and non-stimulant medications) for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and suicidal ideation and attempts (SIA) have led to inconsistent conclusions. Methodological challenges – including insufficient sample size and follow-up, as well as an inability to adjust for confounding factors – may have been partially responsible for the conflicting results.

An Analysis Group team led by Managing Principal Mei Sheng Duh and Vice President Maral DerSarkissian – including Manager Kalé Kponee-Shovein, Senior Analyst Mu Cheng, and Analyst Yuqian (Miley) Gu – collaborated with researchers from Shire (now part of Takeda) on a longitudinal retrospective study of a large population of ADHD patients to address the methodological challenges of previous research. The study used health care administrative claims data to investigate the association between SIA in patients with ADHD, and treatment with central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medications, treatment with non-stimulant medications, or no pharmacological treatment.

The study’s results, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggest that treatment with CNS stimulants may significantly decrease the risk of SIA compared to treatment with non-stimulant medications or no pharmacotherapy. The result may help to inform clinical practice with regard to pharmacological treatment of ADHD, and direct future research on this topic.

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Siffel C, DerSarkissian M, Kponee-Shovein K, Spalding W, Gu Y, Cheng M, Duh M