The Attitudes of Healthcare Workers Towards ADHD in Kenya
MetadataShow full metadata
The diagnosis of ADHD is becoming common in Kenya and the rest of Africa. Local researchers, however, have paid little attention to the mental disorder. This study investigates the attitudes of mental health care workers towards ADHD in Kenya. It is their attitudes that will most directly determine the rates of ADHD diagnosis and the kind of treatment administered as ADHD becomes more relevant in the coming years. ADHD treatment can be pharmacological or non-pharmacological. A sample of 84 nurses, physicians, and psychiatrists working in public, private, and faith-based hospitals in Nairobi, Kenya were asked about their views with open ended and closed ended questions. The data were analyzed qualitatively. Broadly speaking, health care workers believed that ADHD was a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis. Medical professionals appealed to both neurobiological and psychodynamic views to legitimate ADHD as a genuine mental illness. Respondents said that ADHD was not being diagnosed and treated appropriately in Kenya. Respondents pointed to lack of awareness by parents and teachers, inadequate knowledge and experience on the part of medical professionals, and insufficient follow-up by medical facilities as some of the challenges hindering proper ADHD diagnosis and treatment. Health care workers were aware of the side effects of ADHD medication, but were divided on the seriousness of those side effects. To some, side effects were considered mild and an acceptable cost of being on medication, whereas others expressed more worry that the side effects were serious, but nevertheless saw medication as necessary in severe cases. Respondents did not report feeling pressure to diagnose and prescribe ADHD medications. Overall, the results support the assertion that inattention and hyperactivity has been medicalized in Kenya.