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Gender stereotypes in ADHD diagnosis

1 April 2015 - 31 December 2015

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Ginny Russell

Funding awarded: £ 4,985

Sponsor(s): Wellcome Trust

About the research

This small-scale social epidemiology project seeks to establish evidence for a gender bias in the diagnosis of childhood Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It will question whether boys are more likely to receive a diagnosis than girls, given equally severe symptoms. Social epidemiologists in child psychiatry have suggested there is likely to be both real differences in ADHD symptomology between genders and additional referral / identification bias towards boys. The latter may be because ADHD is stereotyped as a 'male disorder', therefore boys are more likely to be assigned the label, whereas girls with comparable difficulties are overlooked. The methodology will be a secondary analysis of data from a birth cohort which comprises 14,000 children. Two groups, one with, and one without ADHD diagnosis will be matched on symptom severity. Gender ratios will be compared between these two groups. It is important to establish whether there is referral/ labelling bias to help clinicians recognise girls who might benefit from ADHD diagnosis. The findings will also inform on-going debates about over-diagnosis of ADHD in boys. Outputs include one journal article, a press release, and workshops with ADHD charities.