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Open Access Research article

Transition to adult mental health services for young people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a qualitative analysis of their experiences

Katie D Swift1*, Charlotte L Hall2, Vic Marimuttu1, Lucy Redstone1, Kapil Sayal3 and Chris Hollis3

Author Affiliations

1 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, United Kingdom

2 CLAHRC, the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom

3 Developmental Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:74  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-74

Published: 5 March 2013

Abstract

Background

There is little research on the process of transition between child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and adult mental health services (AMHS). More recently, there is growing recognition that Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may persist into adulthood requiring services beyond age 18. However, despite National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidance which recommends specialist services for adults with ADHD, there is currently a lack of such services in the UK. The aim of the current study is to explore the experiences of young people with ADHD during transition from CAMHS to AMHS.

Method

Semi-structured qualitative interviews with ADHD patients accessing CAMHS clinics in Nottinghamshire were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

Ten semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analysed. We found that patients’ relationships with their clinician were a key factor in both their reported experience of CAMHS and the transition process. Perceived responsibility of care was also pivotal in how the transition process was viewed. Nature and severity of problems and patients expectations of adult services were also contributing factors in the transition process. The need for continued parental support was openly accepted and thought to be required by the majority of young people with ADHD during transition.

Conclusions

Timely preparation, joint working, good clinician relationships and parental support serve to facilitate the process of transition for young people with ADHD. Nature and severity of problems are perceived to impede or facilitate transition, with predominantly more ‘complex presentations’ with associated mental health problems more familiar to AMHS (e.g. self-harm, depression) making for smoother transitions to adult services. Transitions to AMHS were more difficult when ADHD was viewed as the main or sole clinical problem. Further exploration of young people’s experiences of transition and their engagement with and experience of adult services is required to provide an overall picture of facilitators to successful transition and integration into adult services.

Keywords:
ADHD; Transition; CAMHS; AMHS; Thematic analysis