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Research indicates that ADHD is under- and misdiagnosed, and undertreated in the Black community.

The reasons behind this diagnostic disparity are complex. One explanation is that many Black children with ADHD are misdiagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, or other mental disorders. Possible explanations for these findings include unchecked biases among educators, school administrators, and health professionals toward Black students and a lack of diversity in the teaching and health professions.

The reasons behind this treatment disparity are also complex. Psychological therapy instead of medication for the treatment of ADHD has been found to be more common in the Black community. When Black youth do take medication for ADHD, they are more likely to go off their medication and more likely to receive inadequate follow-up care. Possible explanations for these findings include distrust of the healthcare system, a lack of information about ADHD, concern over mental health stigmatization, and other barriers to care in the Black community.

To avoid under- and misdiagnosis, mismanagement, and further marginalization of Black children, we must increase ADHD education and screening in the Black community and diversify the teaching and health professions. With this kind of understanding, support, and representation, Black youth and their families may be able to receive equitable care [1].


[1] Gaines, T. L. (2017, May 22). Study: ADHD Symptoms Are Going Untreated in Black Youth. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/study-adhd-symptoms-are-going-untreated-black-youth-n761701

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