Treatments for child and adolescent attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in low and middle-income countries: A narrative review Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 2-7 % of children globally and is associated with a myriad of difficulties that have long-term consequences. Most children and adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but there are few reports and no consolidation of findings on ADHD treatment outcomes in this population. We conducted a review of ADHD treatment literature for children and adolescents living in LMICs.


    Studies were identified using databases (PsychoINFO, Pubmed, MEDLINER, EMBASE, Global Health, Academic Search Complete, Google Scholar). The initial search produced 139 articles. These were filtered for language, title, abstract, and full-text keyword identification to yield a final 20 articles to be included in this review.


    Reports on outcomes of both psychological and pharmacological treatment were relatively sparse, particularly the former, which mostly referred to parent training and multimodal programs in pre-school children. Most evidence exists for the benefit of methylphenidate-IR with a few reports on other agents, including clonidine, atomoxetine, and lisdexamfetamine. Methylphenidate is the most common agent to treat ADHD in youth in LMICs. Younger age, combined subtype, and comorbid oppositional defiant disorder were associated with poorer treatment outcome.


    Access to treatment for ADHD is overall limited in LMICs and varied among individual countries. Pharmacological treatments were generally more available than psychological interventions. Several barriers including stigma, cost, and lack of resources were reported to impact treatment acceptance. More research in LMICs is needed to improve and expand mental health services in these regions.

publication date

  • October 2022