Review| Volume 57, ISSUE 11, P1436-1441, June 01, 2005

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a Diverse Culture: Do Research and Clinical Findings Support the Notion of a Cultural Construct for the Disorder?

      There is still some debate in the literature whether Attention-Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity (ADHD) is best conceptualized as a biological disorder or if it is best understood as a cultural construct. This review aims to contribute to disentangle this issue assessing clinical and research data on ADHD in a complete diverse culture from a developing country. We performed a systematic computerized review of the literature on ADHD in Brazil. All investigations were included if dealing with ADHD prevalence, etiology, symptomatological construct, or treatment. Findings were compared to those from studies in developed countries. The prevalence rates of ADHD (5.8% using DSM-IV criteria, 1.5% using ICD-10), the bi-dimensional factor construct extracted from factor analyses (inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity), the pattern of ADHD comorbidity in clinical samples, the family genetic data suggesting a 39% family transmission in clinical samples and the role of some potential candidate genes in dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems, as well as data on the efficacy of methylphenidate in the disorder are all very similar to findings from developed countries. Taken together, these findings suggest that ADHD is not a cultural construct, reinforcing the importance of applying similar research methodology in different cultures to make findings comparable.

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