ADHD Rates Found to be Similar Around the World
> 6/8/2007 11:39:44 AM

Pay attention. Much of the ongoing debate surrounding ADHD has been about whether the disorder is in any way a socially constructed ailment. Dr. Guilherme Polancyk has just helped clarify the issue with a comprehensive meta-analysis of studies around the world. Over 100 studies were combined to compare the ADHD rates from each of the seven continents. If different continents turn out to have widely different rates, it would suggest that either there is a social reason for the diagnoses or that there is some unknown geographical factor (like water supply or weather) that is responsible.

The meta-comparison did find large regional differences in reported rates, the largest gap was between the European rate (4.6%) and the South American rate (11.8%), but the most interesting finding was that these differences could be best explained by differing psychometric methodologies. For example, using the DSM would yield different results than using the ICD because the ICD requires that a child exhibit inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, while the DSM requires symptoms in only one area. In addition, the ICD does not allow for ADHD to coexist with similar diagnoses. Taking into account the fact that researchers in America most commonly use the DSM, the American reputation as a hotbed for ADHD is unfounded.

In a sense, the prevalence of ADHD is determined by society. But Dr. Polancyk's work suggests that it is not something concrete like children watching too much television that is causing the disease. Rather, each society uses a different measuring stick to detect the disease.

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