Treatment patterns among children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the United States - a retrospective claims analysis

BMC Psychiatry, 2022


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioral disorder affecting approximately 10.0% of children and 6.5% of adolescents in the United States (US). A comprehensive assessment of the current treatment landscape is warranted to highlight potential unmet needs of children and adolescents with ADHD. Therefore, this study described treatment patterns and healthcare costs among commercially insured children and adolescents with ADHD in the US.


Children and adolescents with ADHD initiating pharmacological treatment indicated for ADHD were identified from IBM MarketScan Commercial Database (2014-2018). A treatment sequence algorithm was used to examine treatment patterns, including discontinuation (≥ 180 days following the last day of supply of any ADHD treatment), switch, add-on, and drop (discontinuation of an agent in combination therapy), during the 12-month study period following the index date (i.e., first observed ADHD treatment). Total adjusted annual healthcare costs were compared between patients with and without treatment changes.


Among 49,756 children and 29,093 adolescents included, mean age was 9 and 15 years, respectively, and 31% and 38% were female. As the first treatment regimen observed, 92% of both children and adolescents initiated a stimulant and 11% initiated combination therapy. Over half of the population had a treatment change over 12 months-59% of children and 68% of adolescents. Treatment discontinuation over 12 months was common in both populations-21% of children and 36% of adolescents discontinued treatment. Healthcare costs increased with the number of treatment changes observed; children and adolescents with treatment changes (i.e., 1, 2, or ≥ 3) incurred an incremental annual cost of up to $1,443 and $2,705, respectively, compared to those without a treatment change (p < 0.001). Costs were largely driven by outpatient visits.


Over a 12-month period, treatment changes were commonly observed and were associated with excess costs, highlighting the unmet treatment needs of children and adolescents with ADHD in the US.

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Schein J, Childress A, Adams J, Gagnon-Sanschagrin P, Maitland J, Qu W, Cloutier M, Guérin A