LOS ANGELES, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say Medicaid-funded treatment is failing children with attention-deficit/hyper-activity disorder.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, say children were either being treated in primary care or in specialty mental healthcare -- with little cross-over -- despite few differences in clinical severity between the two groups.
Those in primary care were prescribed stimulant medication -- the standard of care. However, they only averaged only one to two follow-up visits a year, the study says.
Those in specialty mental health clinics averaged five or more visits -- mostly psychosocial interventions such as therapy or case management. Less than one-third received stimulant medication.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found overall -- in both primary care and mental health care -- one-third of the children dropped out of care.
"Despite these substantial differences in treatment and service-use intensity, the children we studied remained symptomatic over time, whether or not they were in care," study leader Bonnie Zima said in a statement.
Most tellingly, Zima noted, clinical outcomes -- including functioning, academic achievement and parental distress -- were similar among children receiving care and children receiving no care at all.
The researchers used data for 530 children ages 5-11 diagnosed with ADHD.