Cultural variations in parent's beliefs about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Implications for assessment and treatment

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders in children. Three to five per cent of elementary school-aged children are diagnosed with ADHD, which is often accompanied by other learning disabilities or disorders. Children with ADHD display persistent inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behaviours that are inappropriate for their age. Research shows medication and behavioral treatments can be effective in treating ADHD. However, little research has examined the factors that influence parents’ acceptance of and adherence to these treatments. Treatment adherence is an issue, especially among Asian-Canadian families. Janet Mah is investigating cultural variations in parents’ attitudes towards mental health disorders such as ADHD. She is comparing how parents’ expectations for child behaviour affect treatment choices in Asian-Canadian and Caucasian families. Janet will assess whether Asian-Canadian parents are less likely to attribute problem behaviour to medical causes, and more likely to feel a sense of stigma about mental health problems, compared to Caucasian parents. This research could help clinicians improve cultural sensitivity in mental health services to better reach the under-served population of Asian-Canadian families.