Online Program

Racial/ethnic disparities in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in kindergarten: Evidence from a nationally-representative cohort

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Marianne Hillemeier, PhD, MPH, Health Policy and Administration, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Paul Morgan, PhD, Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, & Special Education, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
George Farkas, PhD, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Steven Maczuga, MS, Population Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Background: Racial/ethnic disparities in ADHD diagnosis are known to occur in school-aged populations, but whether and to what extent these disparities occur as early as kindergarten is unknown. This study investigates racial/ethnic disparities in the diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a nationally-representative cohort of kindergarten children. Methods: Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (N=6,550) were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multivariate regressions to identify 24-month socio-demographic, gestational, birth, and other characteristics predictive of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis by 60 months. Results: Black children were 66% less likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than Whites, controlling for confounding factors. Unadjusted analyses showed Hispanic children to be under-diagnosed for ADHD; their disparity was explained in multivariate analyses by whether a language other than English was primarily spoken in the home. Follow up analyses of kindergarten teacher-reported classroom behavior indicated that neither Blacks nor those primarily speaking a language other than English in the home displayed less frequent ADHD-related symptomology than Whites. Conclusions: Children who are Black or who primarily speak a language other than English at home are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, but are not less likely to display ADHD symptomology. Because these children appear to have unmet treatment needs, there should be increased focus on culturally-sensitive screening in these subpopulations.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss factors associated with ADHD diagnosis among kindergarten children, and disparities by race/ethnicity.

Keyword(s): Health Disparities, Children With Special Needs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an MPH in Maternal Child Health, a PhD in Sociology/Demography, and do research and teaching in children's health and health disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.