Parents' priorities and preferences for treatment of children with ADHD: Qualitative inquiry in the MADDY study

Stacy V. Lu, Brenda M.Y. Leung, Alisha M. Bruton, Elizabeth Millington, E. alexander, Kelsey Camden, Irene Hatsu, Jeanette M. Johnstone, L. Eugene Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Parents' lived experiences of having a child with ADHD may shape their decision making regarding ADHD treatment options for their child. The aim of this study was to explore parents' experiences of living with a child with ADHD in the family and how their experiences influence their perspectives on treatment preferences and priorities. Methods: A phenomenological qualitative design was used. Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents of children with ADHD who were enrolled in a multisite randomized controlled trial. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and transcripts at each site were double coded. Initial codes were derived directly from the text. Qualitative data were analysed with an inductive approach. Results: Twenty-three parents were interviewed: eight from Alberta, Canada; eight from Portland, Oregon, USA; and seven from Columbus, Ohio, USA. Among the parents, 69% were married, 86% completed college education and 52% reported household income over $80,000. Among the children, the mean age was 9.6 years (SD = 1.8 years), 78% were boys and 48% were never medicated for their ADHD. Two major themes emerged from the analysis. Theme 1 was ‘impact of ADHD on families within and outside the home’ with the following subthemes: ‘reconfiguring the home life’, ‘trial-and-error of accommodations at school’ and ‘responding to social pressures to fit in’. Theme 2 was ‘enabling appropriate and accessible treatments for families’ with the following subthemes: ‘finding the “right fit” with professionals and treatments’ and ‘factors influencing inequitable access to treatments’. Conclusions: Parents described shared experiences and identified similar barriers, preferences and priorities for ADHD treatments regardless of demographic differences by site. Families desired access to family-centred, multimodal approaches to ADHD treatment. Further research is needed to identify the specific structural changes to healthcare, services and policies that will better support this approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-861
Number of pages10
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • ADHD
  • ADHD treatment
  • lived experience
  • parents
  • phenomenological
  • qualitative
  • treatment decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Parents' priorities and preferences for treatment of children with ADHD: Qualitative inquiry in the MADDY study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this