Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among children and adolescents in Spain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies

Ferrán Catalá-López12*, Salvador Peiró12, Manuel Ridao13, Gabriel Sanfélix-Gimeno1, Ricard Gènova-Maleras4 and Miguel A Catalá5

Author Affiliations

1 Centro Superior de Investigación en Salud Pública (CSISP), Valencia, Spain

2 Fundación Instituto de Investigación en Servicios de Salud, Valencia, Spain

3 Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud (I+CS), Zaragoza, Spain

4 Primary Care General Directorate, Regional Health Council, Madrid, Spain

5 University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:168  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-168

Published: 12 October 2012



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a commonly diagnosed neuropsychiatric disorder in childhood, but the frequency of the condition is not well established in many countries. The aim of the present study was to quantify the overall prevalence of ADHD among children and adolescents in Spain by means of a systematic review and meta-analysis.


PubMed/MEDLINE, IME, IBECS and TESEO were comprehensively searched. Original reports were selected if they provided data on prevalence estimates of ADHD among people under 18 years old in Spain and were cross-sectional, observational epidemiological studies. Information from included studies was systematically extracted and evaluated. Overall pooled-prevalence estimates of ADHD were calculated using random-effects models. Sources of heterogeneity were explored by means sub-groups analyses and univariate meta-regressions.


Fourteen epidemiological studies (13,026 subjects) were selected. The overall pooled-prevalence of ADHD was estimated at 6.8% [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.9 – 8.8%] representing 361,580 (95% CI 260,550 – 467,927) children and adolescents in the community. There was significant heterogeneity (P < 0.001), which was incompletely explained by subgroup analyses and meta-regressions.


Our findings suggest that the prevalence of ADHD among children and adolescents in Spain is consistent with previous studies conducted in other countries and regions. This study represents a first step in estimating the national burden of ADHD that will be essential to building evidence-based programs and services.