ADHD Goes Global: Notes on Variations in Medicalization and Responses to a Diagnosis in 16 Countries

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Meredith BERGEY, Villanova University, USA
Peter CONRAD, Brandeis University, USA
Sociological research on medicalization has provided important insights into the ways in which social problems come to be defined in medical terms. There has been little research on medicalization occurring beyond national boundaries, especially beyond Europe and North America. This paper is based on an examination of the definitions and treatment of ADHD in 16 countries with an analytical focus on medical, cultural and administrational aspects of the ADHD diagnosis (see Bergey et al., 2018). Until the 1990s ADHD diagnosis and treatment was largely limited to the United States and a few other countries. By 2015 the diagnosis had migrated to many other counties, though its manifestations may differ considerably (Conrad and Bergey, 2014). For example, the prevalence can range from 1% to 15%, in some countries there is a medication-first orientation while others could be called family-intervention first, in some countries an ADHD diagnosis reduces behavioral stigma while in others the diagnosis actually increases stigmatization. Using the case of ADHD as a model we will reflect on the role of states, cultures and markets in the global medicalization of ADHD. Seeing the 16 countries in a comparative frame allows us to begin to analyze differences in global migration and medicalization of this increasingly diagnosed medical category.