ADHD – ethical challenges

The report ADHD – ethical challenges was published in December 2015 and is a result of the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics’ project on ADHD that was initiated in February 2014. The aim of the project was to identify and highlight ethical issues that have specifically arisen in connection with the significant increase in recent years in the number of children, young people and adults diagnosed with ADHD. The purpose of the report is to stimulate continued discussion and reflection on the ethical aspects of ADHD. The report also includes the Council’s recommendations directed to professionals, authorities and the Swedish Government.

In the report, problems related to diagnosis and treatment of ADHD are discussed. The considerable geographic variations in Sweden regarding prescribing of ADHD medications are pointed out as problematic since it implies that both underdiagnosis and overdiagnosis of the condition may occur.

The diagnosis ADHD is also discussed in terms of normality; what spectrum of behaviours and personality traits should fall within the boundaries of what is considered ‘normal’? A related question is whether there are social structures that drive the need to explain cognitive difficulties in terms of psychiatric diagnoses.

A summary of the report in English will soon be published on the website.

The complete report is only available in Swedish. Smer rapport 2015_2_ADHD in Swedish (pdf 750 KB)