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ADHD and the role of medication : knowledge and perceptions of qualified and student teachers

Akram, G. and Thomson, A.H. and Boyter, A.C. and McLarty, M. (2009) ADHD and the role of medication : knowledge and perceptions of qualified and student teachers. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24 (4). pp. 423-436. ISSN 0885-6257

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Abstract

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is thought to affect 3-5% of school-aged children. A sound knowledge of both the disorder and its treatment would appear to be useful for school teachers. This study compared the knowledge and attitudes of Scottish qualified and student teachers towards ADHD and its pharmacological treatment. Data regarding teachers' sources of information on ADHD and their familiarity with ADHD websites are also presented. Forty-three experienced and 25 student teachers were surveyed using an anonymous self-administered questionnaire. The mean (±SD) number of correct responses to 15 true/false knowledge statements was 5.1 (±2.3) and 5.4 (±2.5) for qualified and student teachers respectively. On medication-specific issues such as side effects, student teachers achieved more correct responses than qualified teachers (mean [±SD] values were 3.6 [±3.4] and 3.3 [±2.8] out of 18 respectively). Beliefs and attitudes were assessed by Likert-scale responses to 12 statements. Qualified teachers were more likely to disagree with the statement that teachers are trained to recognise the symptoms of ADHD or that they have sufficient understanding of the purpose of medication (p = 0.006). Qualified teachers indicated greater conviction of their attitudes, opting for the extreme values ('strongly agree' or 'strongly disagree') on 3.1 of the 12 items, whereas the corresponding value for student teachers was 1.6. The most popular sources for information about ADHD were 'other colleagues' (87%) and the Internet (86%). In conclusion, this small study indicates that Scottish school teachers and student teachers have inadequate knowledge and understanding of ADHD and the role and nature of medication used in its treatment.