Objective: The aim of this study was to identify patterns of ADHD care, including factors that guide selection and sequencing of treatments in a large nationwide sample of preschool-aged youth over the past 6 years. Method: A retrospective cohort study utilizing a large electronic health record (TriNetX) of nearly 24,000 children ages 3 to 6 diagnosed with ADHD. Results: One in three preschoolers with ADHD were prescribed psychotropic medication, most commonly methylphenidate and guanfacine. One in 10 had at least one psychotherapy billing code during the entire assessment with most youth starting medication before psychotherapy. Rates of most treatments, including polypharmacy, increased with comorbid psychiatric disorders or sleep problems and over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Conclusion: Rates of treatment have increased over time but are still largely inconsistent with published care guidelines that advise therapy before medication. Clinicians appear to prioritize psychiatric comorbidity and sleep problems when selecting treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-721
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this