ADHD is a popular topic in news reporting, but the media may not always convey the whole story. The studies highlighted in the news can sometimes be alarming. If something you read or hear in the news makes you question your or your child’s treatment plan, the medication you or your child is taking, or even the way you parent your child, it can be helpful to look at the original study the news reports are based on rather than relying on the media to translate the science for you. It is important to discuss concerns with your treatment provider, especially before making any changes to your treatment plan.
The media tends to cover studies that are sensational and then emphasize those aspects. Therefore, when viewing news reports, being skeptical and questioning what you read or see is a healthy response.
Here are some tips to help you understand studies, and how to interpret their results. When reading about research studies and how the media report on them, consider the following factors:
Causation, on the other hand, refers to two factors where one makes the other happen. It can be difficult for researchers to determine whether one factor causes another or if there is a third factor influencing the results. It’s important to be mindful that some news reports may state a causal relationship when it is just a correlation. For example, a recent study found that the more critical parents are, the more severe their children’s ADHD symptoms. However, the researchers could not determine how these factors were related—are the parents more critical because their children’s ADHD symptoms are so severe, or are the ADHD symptoms more severe because the parents are more critical? The news headlines, however, included such alarms as “Is Your Child’s ADHD Your Fault?” and “Overly Critical Parents Lead to Persistence of ADHD in Kids.”
The studies CHADD cites in our articles, fact sheets, and newsletters have typically been vetted by members of our Professional Advisory Board and/or NRC’s Health Information Specialists, and we take care to make clear the implications to you of the findings therein.
Here are a few links for additional information on understanding research studies:
9 Questions to Help You Make Sense of Scientific Research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Understanding Research: Ten Tips by the Harvard Family Research Project