The Representation of ADHD by the Media

CADDAC National Director

I just finished listening to a great presentation by Dr. David Goodman about this topic. If you are interested in this topic I would highly recommend you access this presentation sponsored by the National Resource Centre on AD/HD at

In his opening Dr. Goodman reviews the actual accuracy of newspaper articles on ADHD research.

  • Seven would be on new research
  • Six out of seven would be later refuted
  • One would be neither refuted or confirmed
  • Two would be confirmed
  •  One would have inadequate substance

He goes on to explain how journalists construct articles with victims, villains and heroes in order to catch a reader’s interest. He suggests that readers try and identify these roles in the storey and also question whether the author is trying to express extreme attitudes to sensationalize the story to increase interest. He points out that many journalists, especially national journalists, have agendas, or have been given agendas by their publishers, so ask yourself “What is the agenda of this article?” as you are reading it. He closes by stating, “The credibility of the information is dependent on the intent of the provider.”

Two parts of the presentation confirmed my fears that these type of articles increase fear and shame in parents and impact patient diagnoses and treatment. Furthermore, he indicated that the public is easily seduced by articles that sound scientific, but are actually lacking in up-to-date or comprehensive research on a topic, and may sensationalize new unproven research in order to interest more readers.

In the presentation and Q&A period Dr. Goodman offers concrete suggestions on:

  • What to question while reading these articles – what is missing?
  • What you can do about these articles –how to contact a journalist
  • How to evaluate scientific research as a lay person
  • Where to access good scientific research information
  • The value of these types of articles
  • How to address those who question the existence of ADHD
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