Reassuring parents: New draft ADHD Clinical Practice Points do not mandate medication

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Summary media release information

23 November 2011
NHMRC Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Claire Pitham, 0422 008 512

Recent media reports are suggesting that new clinical practice points being developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council will call for compulsory medication of children and reporting of children who are not receiving medication for ADHD symptoms. 

Chief Executive Officer Professor Warwick Anderson is reassuring parents and practitioners that this is not the case.

“I want to be very clear here.  The new Clinical Practice Points do not and will not call for mandatory medication. It’s quite the opposite.  The new clinical practice points clearly state that medication is only one of a range of treatments.

“Claims that the CPPs call for mandatory medication are incorrect and will cause unnecessary distress and uncertainty for parents who are already grappling with the difficult issue of caring for a child or adolescent with ADHD,” said Professor Anderson

The Clinical Practice Points were developed with the assistance of an expert working group with expertise in psychiatry, clinical psychology, neuro-psychology, paediatric health, family intervention, Indigenous mental health and general practice. 

A careful reading of the Clinical Practice Points will show that these guidelines will play an important role helping doctors (in collaboration with parents) to ensure the best possible diagnosis, treatment and management for children with ADHD, every day, all around Australia.

The essence of the draft Clinical Practice Points is that:

  • There are many options for managing children and adolescents with ADHD, and not every  child with ADHD  will benefit from medication
  • Any decision to prescribe stimulants must be made in consultation with the child’s parents and/or carers, and be based on a considered and careful assessment,
  • A holistic view of the child’s circumstances should be taken,  including seeking alternative explanations for the behaviour
  • A multidisciplinary approach is recommended and may include medication, psychosocial and/or educational strategies, and
  • Once a child is placed on any treatment, but particularly medication, there must be constant and careful review.

It’s regrettable that the expression ‘child protection concerns’ has been interpreted as a call for mandatory reporting when it was to make the point that clinicians always have a duty of care to consider the child’s overall health and well-being.

Consultation on the draft ADHD Clinical Practice Points Consultation closes next Monday 28 November. They are available on the NHMRC website at