Trends in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medication use: a retrospective observational study using population-based databases

Sudha R. Raman, Kenneth K.C. Man, Shahram Bahmanyar, Anick Berard, Scott Bilder, Takoua Boukhris, Greta Bushnell, Stephen Crystal, Kari Furu, Yea Huei KaoYang, Øystein Karlstad, Helle Kieler, Kiyoshi Kubota, Edward Chia Cheng Lai, Jaana E. Martikainen, Géric Maura, Nicholas Moore, Dolores Montero, Hidefumi Nakamura, Anke NeumannVirginia Pate, Anton Pottegård, Nicole L. Pratt, Elizabeth E. Roughead, Diego Macias Saint-Gerons, Til Stürmer, Chien Chou Su, Helga Zoega, Miriam C.J.M. Sturkenbroom, Esther W. Chan, David Coghill, Patrick Ip, Ian C.K. Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The use of medications to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased, but the prevalence of ADHD medication use across different world regions is not known. Our objective was to determine regional and national prevalences of ADHD medication use in children and adults, with a specific focus on time trends in ADHD medication prevalence. Methods: We did a retrospective, observational study using population-based databases from 13 countries and one Special Administrative Region (SAR): four in Asia and Australia, two in North America, five in northern Europe, and three in western Europe. We used a common protocol approach to define study populations and parameters similarly across countries and the SAR. Study populations consisted of all individuals aged 3 years or older between Jan 1, 2001, and Dec 31, 2015 (dependent on data availability). We estimated annual prevalence of ADHD medication use with 95% CI during the study period, by country and region and stratified by age and sex. We reported annual absolute and relative percentage changes to describe time trends. Findings: 154·5 million individuals were included in the study. ADHD medication use prevalence in 2010 (in children aged 3–18 years) varied between 0·27% and 6·69% in the countries and SAR assessed (0·95% in Asia and Australia, 4·48% in North America, 1·95% in northern Europe, and 0·70% in western Europe). The prevalence of ADHD medication use among children increased over time in all countries and regions, and the absolute increase per year ranged from 0·02% to 0·26%. Among adults aged 19 years or older, the prevalence of any ADHD medication use in 2010 varied between 0·003% and 1·48% (0·05% in Asia and Australia, 1·42% in North America, 0·47% in northern Europe, and 0·03% in western Europe). The absolute increase in ADHD medication use prevalence per year ranged from 0·0006% to 0·12%. Methylphenidate was the most commonly used ADHD medication in most countries. Interpretation: Using a common protocol and data from 13 countries and one SAR, these results show increases over time but large variations in ADHD medication use in multiple regions. The recommendations of evidence-based guidelines need to be followed consistently in clinical practice. Further research is warranted to describe the safety and effectiveness of ADHD medication in the short and long term, and to inform evidence-based guidelines, particularly in adults. Funding: None

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-835
Number of pages12
JournalThe Lancet Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


Dive into the research topics of 'Trends in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medication use: a retrospective observational study using population-based databases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this