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Young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in transition from child to adult services: a qualitative study of the experiences of general practitioners in the UK

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Newlove-Delgado, Tamsin  ORCID logo
Blake, Sharon 
Ford, Tamsin 
Janssens, Astrid 


Abstract: Background: Many young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have impairing symptoms that persist into adulthood, yet only a minority experience continuity of care into adult life. Despite growing emphasis on the primary care role in ADHD management in NICE ADHD and transition guidance, little is known about GPs’ perspectives, which could hamper efforts to improve outcomes for young people leaving children’s services. This study aimed to understand GPs’ experiences of involvement with this group and explore their views on the roles and responsibilities of primary and secondary care in transition, to inform recommendations for policy and practice. Method: Qualitative interview study with GPs across the UK. Semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out with 14 GPs recruited through a linked mapping study, social media, and snowballing; data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: In the absence of a smooth transition from child to adult services, many GPs became involved ‘by default’. GPs reacted by trying to identify suitable specialist services, and were faced with the decision of whether to continue ADHD prescribing. Such decisions were strongly influenced by perceptions that prescribing carried risks, and concerns over responsibility, particularly where specialist services were lacking. Participants described variation in service availability, and some highlighted tensions around how shared care works in practice. Conclusion: Implementation of NICE guidance is highly variable, with implications for GPs and patients. Risk and responsibility for primary care ADHD prescribing are central concerns that need to be addressed, as is the inclusion of GPs in a planned transition process.



Research Article, Service organization, utilization, and delivery of care, ADHD, Transition, Primary care, General practitioner

Journal Title

BMC Family Practice

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BioMed Central
Health Services and Delivery Research Programme (14/21/52)