Young people's relationship with stimulant medication in the context of an ADHD diagnosis

PhD Thesis

Tharia, A. 2018. Young people's relationship with stimulant medication in the context of an ADHD diagnosis. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsTharia, A.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Introduction. Research into children and young people’s experience of stimulant medication has been contradictory but suggests that adolescents may have more ambivalent views, and highlights identity issues related to this age group. There is a gap in the UK adolescent experience of stimulant medication. There is also a lack of research into the wider meaning of taking stimulant medication for an ADHD diagnosis.

Aims. The aim of this study was to research how adolescent young people talk about ADHD, medication and themselves using discourse analysis, and how available ways of understanding ADHD and medication may impact on how they make sense of themselves.

Method. This qualitative study employed a semi-structured topic schedule to guide interviews and a focus group with thirteen young people aged 13-17, analysed using discourse analysis. Additionally, leaflets available at child and adolescent services and related websites were analysed.

Results. Four different ways of conceptualising medication were identified, with implications for young people’s sense of agency and control in relation to medication. The majority of participants talked about their un-medicated selves as dangerous, bad and out of control. Participants highlighted dilemmas related to balancing valued aspects of their un-medicated selves, with being in control and ‘safe’ when on medication.

Discussion. Clinicians should engage with the wider meanings of medication with young people, including family beliefs about medication. A focus on medication as a tool, rather than a cure, may empower young people to be decision makers. Clinicians should also be engaging young people in conversations about impact on self, in relation to medication.

KeywordsADHD; hyperkinetic disorder; stimulant medication; methylphenidate; psychotropic medication
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Publication process dates
Deposited10 Oct 2018
AcceptedFeb 2018
Output statusUnpublished
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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