Over-diagnosed and over-treated: a survey of Australian public attitudes towards the acceptability of drug treatment for depression and ADHD

Partridge, Brad, Lucke, Jayne and Hall, Wayne (2014) Over-diagnosed and over-treated: a survey of Australian public attitudes towards the acceptability of drug treatment for depression and ADHD. BMC Psychiatry, 14 1: 74.1-74.9. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-74


Author Partridge, Brad
Lucke, Jayne
Hall, Wayne
Title Over-diagnosed and over-treated: a survey of Australian public attitudes towards the acceptability of drug treatment for depression and ADHD
Journal name BMC Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-244X
Publication date 2014-03-13
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1471-244X-14-74
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 1
Start page 74.1
End page 74.9
Total pages 9
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Over the last decade the use of psychotropic medications to treat common mental health problems has increased in Australia. This paper explores:1) public attitudes towards the acceptability of using prescription drugs to treat depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and 2) beliefs about over-diagnosis of depression and ADHD.

Method: 1293 members of the general public were surveyed about their attitudes towards drug treatment for depression and ADHD through the Queensland Social Survey (QSS), an omnibus state-wide survey of households in the state of Queensland. The survey was administered through a CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing) system. Logistic regression analyses were used to predict belief that drug treatment is acceptable, and that depression and ADHD are over-diagnosed.

Results: Most participants (60.9%) said that it was acceptable to use prescription drugs to treat depression. In contrast, attitudes towards the use of prescription drugs to treat ADHD were much less positive with around the same proportion saying it was acceptable (42.1%) as unacceptable (38.2%). More than half of the sample agreed that too many people are diagnosed with depression when they don't really have it (57.7%), and 78.3% of participants agreed that too many children are diagnosed with ADHD when they don't really have it. Participants who said depression or ADHD were over-diagnosed were less likely to say that it is acceptable to treat these conditions with prescription drugs.

Conclusions: Despite increases in prescribing rates there is still considerable scope for increasing the public's acceptance of treating common mental illnesses with psychotropic drugs. Furthermore, the public's views on over-diagnosis of depression and ADHD appear to reflect ongoing controversy about the proper identification of these conditions, and these views negatively impact attitudes towards drug treatment. This may be a barrier to effective treatment of these conditions given that drug treatment is often recommended as a first line response.
Keyword ADHD
Anti-depressants
Attitudes
Depression
Medication
Over-diagnosis
Stimulants
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2015 Collection
 
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