ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance

Recipient of the Investigator Award in Health Policy Research


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Published by Oxford University Press on March 1, 2014


Richard Scheffler
Stephen Hinshaw

About the Book

Book Cover Draft 9.13

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects over 4 million children in the United States. The disorder inhibits academic achievement and the development of social relationships, life skills, and independence. Yet the causes of ADHD and its diagnosis and treatment remain mired in controversy. Co-PIs Richard M. Scheffler, Ph.D. and Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D. examine clinical and policy issues surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Their project, ADHD Medication in America: Society, Schools, and Public Policy, considers ADHD’s biological basis and risk factors; market influences on diagnosis and medication rates; prevalence and treatment disparities; the impact of relevant federal and state laws on schools, children, and their parents; and the cost effectiveness of treatment options. Drs. Scheffler and Hinshaw will produce evidence-based policy recommendations for reducing diagnostic and treatment disparities, for improving access to effective treatments, and for increasing use of the most cost-effective treatments. Their research findings should inform policy debates and expand our understanding of how to treat children with ADHD more effectively and improve their quality of life.

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“This powerful, fact-packed survey is complex, thought-provoking, and urgent.” —Publishers Weekly (Book review)

“The ADHD Explosion by Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler is simply the best book in the last 15 years to describe the social phenomenon we call ADHD. Hinshaw and Scheffler have taken a very broad view of the problems of children we diagnose as ADHD and properly relabel the condition a biopsychosocial disorder. That they should be hailed for such insight is both justifiable and ironic.” – Lawrence Diller, MD, in The Journal of Attentive Disorders (book review)

“The ADHD Explosion is a strong primer on the facts and issues surrounding the disorder, which will interest physicians, educators, lawmakers, and parents at the pointy-headed end of the spectrum. Hinshaw and Scheffler patiently walk readers through a discussion of the symptoms and probable causes of ADHD, and the promise and limitations of various treatments. They discuss the recognition that the disorder is not simply a problem of upper-middle-class white boys, as once thought, but that it exists in adults, females, and poor and minority kids. And they predict in specific detail how heated global competition will make ADHD and its treatment a growing affair in many developing nations for years to come.” —Katherine Sharpe, MA, Mental Health Journalist, The Lancet Psychiatry (Book review)

“At a time when proposals about disability and health insurance policy have given intense focus to ADHD, it is important to have a clear sense of what the illness is, the consequences of carrying the disorder, the complex issues around the role that ADHD has taken in education and social interactions, and the opportunities for treatment of the condition. Anyone serious about tackling policy issues concerning ADHD should read this book.” —Richard G. Frank, PhD, Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

“If you think that ADHD is simply an invention of mental health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, then The ADHD Explosion will change your mind. This book elucidates the true personal and social costs of the syndrome for children, their families, schools, and communities.” —Jeffrey E. Harris, MD PhD, Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“This is a unique, highly informative, science-based, and hence incredibly useful book about ADHD and the numerous controversies surrounding it. No disorder in recent times has been so controversial, so terribly misrepresented and sensationalized in the media, or so polarizing among the general public as this one. The authors do a superb job cutting through the nonsense with facts to portray ADHD both sensibly and sensitively. While a very useful book for parents and educators, professionals, students, and journalists will also find this book to be invaluable for its clear representation of what is known about ADHD and for its even-handedness and thoroughness in explaining the source of the many public and professional controversies.” —Russell A. Barkley PhD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina

 The ADHD Explosion is available for purchase through Oxford University Press or Amazon