Prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in Arab and Jewish children in Israel, where are the gaps?

Amal Shehadeh-Sheeny, Orna Baron-Epel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder affecting children and causing significant impairment. It is not clear to what extent ADHD differs between population groups. This study aims to assess prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD among Arab and Jewish children of primary school age in Israel. Methods: Cross-sectional survey, including 517 parents of children ages 7–10 (225 Jewish and 292 Arab) and 60 homeroom teachers of the corresponding children. Both parents and homeroom teachers completed the ADHD Rating Scale-V-RV. ADHD was defined according to DSM-5 ADHD criteria by both parents and teachers, or clinical diagnosis. In addition, parents reported ADHD medication and adherence to medication. Results: Prevalence of ADHD was similar for both groups. Yet, seeking diagnosis was lower among Arab Muslim children (9.2%) compared to Jewish children (17.8%). Arab Muslim children received significantly less medication compared to Jewish children. Parental decision to seek diagnosis was associated with education (OR = 6.14, CI 1.74–21.71), not ethnicity. Ethnicity predicted parents’ decisions to pharmacologically treat their children with ADHD (OR = 7.61, CI 1.14–50.86) and adherence to medication (OR = 10.19, CI 1.18–88.01). Conclusion: Education is critical in the help-seeking process, affecting the rate of ADHD diagnosis. Pharmacological treatment and adherence are correlated with ethnicity. Parents with limited education and minorities should be targeted for interventions to increase awareness regarding ADHD and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number586
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the study participants.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature.


  • Attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder
  • Diagnosis
  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Help-seeking
  • Socio-economic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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