Explanatory Models of ADHD: Do They Differ by Ethnicity, Child Gender, or Treatment Status?

Regina Bussing, Nancy E. Schoenberg, Kenneth M. Rogers, Bonnie T. Zlma, Sherwin Angus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


This study describes parents' understanding, or explanatory models, of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and examines how such explanatory models differ by ethnicity, child gender, treatment status, and sociodemographic status. Children with ADHD were identified through a twostage study of a school district special education population; this study included a screening and a diagnostic phase. In addition, a survey concerning parent-reported knowledge and attitudes about ADHD, and ethnographic interviews-based on Kleinman's patient explanatory model-to elicit parental beliefs were conducted. White parents were more likely than African American parents to apply medical labels, expect a lifelong course, include school interventions in the desired treatment plan, and address academic and social outcomes. Compared to parents of boys, parents of affected girls were less likely to expect short duration of ADHD. Further research needs to be done to address the etiology of cultural and gender variations of explanatory models for ADHD, and to examine how specific explanatory styles affect help-seeking, treatment adherence, and outcomes for this important, treatable childhood condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-242
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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