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Aims: To ascertain from paediatricians and child psychiatrists their views regarding the aetiology, assessment, and diagnosis of attentional difficulties in children, and the prescribing of stimulant medication for such difficulties.
Methods: Using a questionnaire devised by the authors, 465 paediatricians and 444 child psychiatrists were surveyed.
Results: The overall response rate was 73%. Some 94% of child psychiatrists and 29% of paediatricians routinely dealt with attentional difficulties. Views on aetiology, classification, and diagnosis were varied. More than 60% of both groups were prepared to prescribe stimulant medication without a formal diagnosis being made. Comorbid conduct disorder and the views of other professionals and of parents have an impact on practice.
Conclusions: This survey demonstrates that there is a range of approaches to attentional difficulties by both paediatricians and child psychiatrists.