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Estimating the costs of ongoing care for adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with increased use of health, social and education services. There is a lack of data to quantify the economic burden of ADHD in the UK. The aim of this study was to estimate additional education, health and social care costs amongst adolescents in the UK diagnosed with ADHD.


Participants were 143, 12- to 18-year-olds from the Cardiff longitudinal ADHD study. Service use relating to mental health over the previous year was measured using the children’s service interview. Individual resource use was combined with unit cost data, from national sources, to calculate costs per patient and subsequently the mean cost per patient. Mean costs, 95 % confidence intervals and median use were calculated using nonparametric bootstrapping methods.


The mean cost per adolescent for NHS, social care and education resources used in a 12-month period related to ADHD was £5,493 (£4,415.68, £6,678.61) in 2010 prices and the median was £2,327. Education and NHS resources accounted for approximately 76 and 24 %, respectively. Estimated annual total UK costs are £670 million.


The additional costs to the NHS and education system of treating adolescents remain substantial for several years after the initial ADHD diagnosis. There exists a need to develop and evaluate early interventions which have the potential to reduce the longer-term burden, particularly on education resource use.

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Colin Green and Stuart Logan received research support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through the Peninsula Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care. This report/article presents independent research commissioned by the NIHR. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The original study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Action Medical Research and the Department of Health (England). We are grateful to Dr Marianne van den Bree, Dr Tom Fowler, Professor Michael Owen and Professor Michael O’Donovan for their input to the CLASS study.

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The authors have no potential conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Claire Telford.

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Telford, C., Green, C., Logan, S. et al. Estimating the costs of ongoing care for adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 48, 337–344 (2013).

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