New Study Identifies Cultural Differences for ADHD Treatment and Tolerance

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AHDH) is viewed as a neuro-developmental disorder throughout the world. Most cultures recognize that it presents chronic symptoms that cause dysfunction and is a condition that should receive treatment. Although there is some international consensus regarding ADHD, the methods and prevalence of treatment vary greatly from one country to the next. A recent study examined the tolerance and treatment protocols for ADHD in ten different countries, including the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Israel, Germany, China and Brazil. The researchers assessed historical data, educational attitudes, costs, treatments, diagnoses, and stigmas relating to ADHD within these ten countries and discovered that there were significant variances. Most notably, the differences were not in the prevalence of ADHD or cultural factors, but rather in the definition of the disorder and the treatments provided.

Consistency was discovered in the amount of medication used, the duration of regimen and the cost of the medication as being more expensive annually. Several of the countries employ medication as a first-line treatment, and other countries, like the United Kingdom, urge psychosocial and therapeutic treatments to be attempted before or with medication. In Canada, the decision is left up to the client and doctor. Another striking variation was found in the educational acceptance and tolerance of ADHD. Symptoms of hyperactivity and excessive movement are more readily accepted in Israel where there is an expectation of higher activity levels within the classrooms. However, children in China are required to stay seated and quiet for most of their school day, which creates a less tolerant environment for those displaying symptoms of ADHD. Brazil takes an entirely different approach and relies on the constructivism theory in that behaviors may not be a result of a disorder and therefore, there are very few disruptions in the school environment as a result of ADHD symptoms.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Merri

    May 6th, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Maybe we are just too over eager to diagnose something as a problem here in the US. What may just be seen as being a kid in other countries we have to always have an answer for here. No wonder our insurance premiums are so high, we go to the dr any time we sneeze and we feel the need to always have an answer for things, even things that might need no answer.

  • Barbara

    May 7th, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    It’s interesting to compare thugs such as this. I don’t think this is done too often but it should be. Because it let’s us see which method works the best and where we are wrong or inefficient ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to improve treatment methods.

  • Laura

    May 9th, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    I would think that cultural ideals plays a huge role in how we see problems in the classroom and also with how they are dealt with. I am sure that teachers in China for example would see the United States and our educational system as being way too tolerant with these students, while a country that would be recognized as even more laid back than ours would see us as being too rigid. You really have to know the society that you are dealing with when looking at these issues and reading about how the numbers are reported overall.

  • Minako

    May 10th, 2011 at 4:47 AM

    Other cultures may not cater to children with these sorts of sttention problems in the same way the you do in the United Staes and other western countries. I am from Japan and when in school there disruptive behavior, no matter the cause, would have gotten you a good spanking from the teacher, and no excuse was needed or give. I am not saying that this is the answer, but you do have to wonder if somethimes there is too much leniency in the classroom.

  • Lyle

    May 12th, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    @Minako–are you serious? If a teacher laid a hand on a child in that manner in the US they would be arrested and in court before they could blink. Their behavior would be totally unacceptable here.

    If a teacher has to spank a child to regain control of their classroom, what does that say about them and their coping techniques?

  • Bob

    January 23rd, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    Its legal to hit a student in the us in 19 states

  • Jesse

    May 12th, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Cultural leanings should be inconsequential when it comes to science. The children need help and the scientists from every nation should be pooling their ideas on how to solve the ADHD epidemic.

  • sue

    May 12th, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    @Jesse –That’s wishful thinking that scientists would do so. We’re still in the dark in a lot of ways about ADHD. Heck, there are educated folks out there who think children can magically grow out of ADHD without any help or intervention from professionals. You can to a certain extent if learning how to deal best with it counts, but not completely. Your ADHD will always be there.

    You don’t grow out of it, you grow into it. It’s the same way you grow out of being upset over losing a finger in an accident–you adapt but the disadvantage is always there.

  • Dorothea

    May 14th, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    @sue: I doubt the ” not completely” part. I know some boys who had ADHD bad and they were perfectly normal as adults when they grew up or at least outward appearances said they were. In my opinion, it just takes more time for them to “get it” and fit in.

  • Barb

    May 14th, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    @Merri- I’ve heard repeatedly that the ADHD epidemic is the result of parents being incredibly obsessed about getting a diagnosis. Parents keep doing the rounds and getting third, fourth, even tenth opinions until a specialist gives them a label for their child’s behavior they can accept. Is that the whole truth? I’m not convinced.

  • joan j.

    May 14th, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    I think the epidemic is purely our society being more aware of ADHD. Autism for example was practically ignored by the average person until a few decades ago, and now everyone knows a family it affects and has a basic grasp of what it is. ADHD is going down the same road of familiarity.

  • Zac Davis

    November 29th, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Reliable ADHD treatment involves the rapid detection and full diagnosis of the dysfunction. Supervision of parents and counselling makes the disorder more manageable.

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