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Education and health outcomes in children prescribed long-acting stimulants for the treatment and management of diagnosed ADHD

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Ted McDonald
Project Number: P0078
Year Approved: 2022

Project Description

While the effectiveness of drug therapy in reducing ADHD symptoms is generally well established, its role in improving functional outcomes is less well defined. To expand knowledge in this area, we use retrospective analysis of administrative data to examine how long-acting stimulants impact educational and health outcomes among New Brunswick students enrolled in grades K-12 from 2008 to 2019. We link individual-level data across health, academic and demographic databases to characterize student experiences based on ADHD diagnosis and medication history, and analysis of associations between drug therapy and outcomes of interest. This population-based approach allows us to analyze a large, representative sample in a real-world setting. Students with ADHD will be identified based on ADHD-associated medical plans in school records, physician notes in billing records and/or prescription records for ADHD medications. A control group without ADHD, and another with untreated ADHD will also be identified. Difference-in-difference regression analysis will be used to compare outcomes during treated vs untreated periods among individuals in the treated group to outcome differences in control groups over matched time periods. Outcomes of interest include report card and provincial standardized assessment scores, grade retention, graduation, post-secondary transition, attendance, suspension, physician visits and hospitalization for accidents, injuries and overdoses. Regression models are used to control for potential confounders including relevant demographic, health and socioeconomic factors.