GP checklist for ADHD in adults

A simple checklist could help GPs to diagnose attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, say experts.

Guidelines issued by the British Association of Psychopharmacology (BAP) are hoped to help improve diagnosis of ADHD in adults, following concerns that it is often misdiagnosed as depression (GP, 12 January 2007).

A 22-item checklist for adult ADHD has been derived from evidence of key symptoms in childhood. Some of the symptoms are poor organisational skills, stress intolerance, and failure to follow instructions.

The BAP advises against current neuropsychological tests for diagnosis, but says general intelligence tests can help.

While patients with signs of ADHD often first present in primary care, drug treatment should be initiated and optimised by secondary services.

Patients who do receive medication need to be monitored and reviewed every six to 12 months, under the guideline.

Professor David Nutt, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol and BAP consensus group member, said the NHS should look at the issues highlighted by these guidelines so that resources can be redirected to provide appropriate care for adults with ADHD.

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