SA’s first ADHD guidelines for adults released

SOUTH Africa’s first guidelines for adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has recently been published in the South African Journal of Psychiatry.

With more than one million South Africans between the ages of 20 and 50 affected by adult ADHD these guidelines will greatly assist those suffering from the illness to receive the necessary treatment and offering patients bargaining power when confronting medical aids on the issue of chronic medication.

Compiled by psychiatrists doctors Renata Schoeman and Rykie Liebenberg of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) Special Interest Group (SIG) for adult ADHD, the comprehensive guidelines for medical professionals includes assessment procedures, drug treatment options and the treatment plan for long term health.

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Dr Schoeman said despite the known efficacy of treatment and the substantial costs of untreated ADHD, access to healthcare and treatment is not a given for many patients in South Africa.

“In SA, there is poor identification and treatment of common mental disorders at primary healthcare level and limited access to specialist resources with a service delivery and treatment gap of up to 75 per cent. Medication options are also often limited in emerging markets and in SA psychiatrists and patients do not have access to the medication resources available in established markets. Often than not ADHD is not diagnosed, or misdiagnosed and can have a severe impact on the functioning of the patient and lead to costly medical aid or private out-of-pocket expenses,” she said.

The guidelines outline the requirements for comprehensive diagnostic assessment (at specialist level) and diagnostic certainty prior to initiating drug treatment.

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Once a proper treatment plan has been established, follow-up can take place on primary healthcare level – leading to further cost savings to schemes. Ongoing treatment – which includes compliance to treatment – is crucial in preventing complications and long-term costs.

If left untreated or misdiagnosed, Dr Schoeman says the consequences of adult ADHD can be detrimental to the long-term health and quality of life of those affected.

The guidelines stem from Dr Schoeman’s MBA completed at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in 2015 where she explored for the first time in South Africa the situation with regards to the prevalence and treatment of adult ADHD and suggested a new funding model for medical schemes.

Visit to view the guidelines document.



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