Date of Graduation


Document Type



Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurobiological condition characterized by developmentally inappropriate attention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity. ADHD is a growing problem in the United States educational system with an estimated 3 to 5 percent of the school-aged population, or approximately 2 million children and adolescents affected. Substantial scientific research has been conducted to examine the effectiveness of stimulant medication as a treatment for ADHD. Little research, however, has been conducted to examine the preparedness of physicians to diagnose, treat, and monitor children with ADHD. This study determined what essential knowledge, attitudes, and skills primary care physicians need to effectively diagnose and treat ADHD in children and what, when, and how medical students at West Virginia University (WVU) School of Medicine receive instruction about ADHD. A Delphi of ADHD experts and a content analysis of the WVU curriculum were implemented. ADHD experts agreed upon a list of 43 items as essential knowledge, attitudes, and skills primary care physicians need. These included knowledge of the disorder, ability and willingness to communicate with other professionals, and full knowledge of medications. When the curriculum of WVU was examined it was found instruction occurs in three classes but there is no specifically defined ADHD curriculum. Based on the results, it was determined that training on ADHD should occur throughout the continuum of medical education from medical school to continuing medical education; the bulk of this training occurring during residency. At WVU a specifically defined ADHD curriculum spanning the various disciplines should be developed and implemented. To facilitate development of this ADHD curriculum, the list of essential knowledge, attitudes, and skills created by the expert Delphi panel should be used. Results of this study and other reviewed studies indicate the need for further research to more completely examine services provided by primary care physicians for children with ADHD.