Racial and Ethnic Differences in ADHD Treatment Quality Among Medicaid-Enrolled Youth

OBJECTIVES: We estimated racial/ethnic differences in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) care quality and treatment continuity among Medicaid-enrolled children.
 
METHODS: Using Medicaid data from 9 states (2008 to 2011), we identified 172 322 youth (age 6 to 12) initiating ADHD medication. Outcome measures included: (1) adequate follow-up care in the (a) initiation and (b) continuation and maintenance (C&M) treatment phases; (2) combined treatment with medication and psychotherapy (versus medication alone); (3) medication discontinuation; and (4) treatment disengagement (ie, discontinued medication and received no psychotherapy). Logistic regressions controlled for confounding measures.
 
RESULTS: Among those initiating medication, three-fifths received adequate follow-up care in the initiation and C&M phases, and under two-fifths received combined treatment. Compared with whites, African American youth were less likely to receive adequate follow-up in either phase (P < .05), whereas Hispanic youth were more likely to receive adequate follow-up in the C&M phase (P < .001). African American and Hispanic youth were more likely than whites to receive combined treatment (P < .05). Over three-fifths discontinued medication, and over four-tenths disengaged from treatment. Compared with whites, African American and Hispanic children were 22.4% and 16.7% points more likely to discontinue medication, and 13.1% and 9.4% points more likely to disengage from treatment, respectively (P < .001).
 
CONCLUSIONS: Care quality for Medicaid-enrolled youth initiating ADHD medication is poor, and racial/ethnic differences in these measures are mixed. The most important disparities occur in the higher rates of medication discontinuation among minorities, which translate into higher rates of treatment disengagement because most youth discontinuing medication receive no psychotherapy.
 
Year: 2017
Author: Janet R. Cummings, Xu Ji, Lindsay Allen, Cathy Lally, Benjamin G. Druss