Stimulant Adherence Rates Low in Youth With ADHD

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Based on index prescription renewals, rates of stimulant medication adherence were low among children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Rates of stimulant medication adherence were low among children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to study results published in Psychiatric Services.

Researchers conducted an electronic health record study of children and adolescents with ADHD (n=2206) who received a prescription for a central nervous system stimulant. Data were collected from a large electronic medical registry at the Massachusetts General Hospital from 2015 to 2016. Medical adherence was defined as the timely renewal of a stimulant prescription, based on data recorded in the electronic medical registry system.

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After analysis, the researchers found that 46% of children and adolescents were adherent to stimulant medication therapy. In particular, adherence rates were reduced in female patients and older patients, as well as in the primary care setting.

One key limitation of the study was the lack of data related to patient comorbidities.

“These findings provide strong evidence of low rates of medication adherence among youths, underscoring the need for active efforts to better understand the problem and develop approaches to help mitigate it,” the researchers wrote.

“Efforts to improve medication adherence for ADHD may be most needed in the primary care setting,” they concluded.

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Biederman J, Fried R, DiSalvo M, et al. Evidence of low adherence to stimulant medication among children and youths with ADHD: an electronic health records study [published online June 27, 2019]. Psychiatr Serv. doi:10.1176/