London, May 5 : Adding a computerised test of attention and activity to standard care can reduce the time needed to make a diagnostic decision on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a study says.
The findings, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, also showed that such a test can increase the likelihood of excluding ADHD when it is not present and improve clinicians' confidence in their decision-making, without compromising diagnostic accuracy.
"The trial is ground-breaking because it is the first independent randomised-controlled study to demonstrate that an objective assessment technology (QbTest) can increase the speed and efficiency of diagnostic decision-making in ADHD," said lead study author Chris Hollis, Professor at University of Nottingham in Britain.
"The clinicians who had access to a QbTest report were faster in reaching diagnostic decisions with no overall loss of diagnostic accuracy," Hollis said.
In the randomised, parallel, single-blind controlled trial in mental health and community paediatric clinics in England (the AQUA study), 267 participants aged 6-17 years-old and their clinician were randomised to either receive the QbTest report or not as part of their standard diagnostic assessment for ADHD.
Clinicians with access to the computerised test report were more likely to reach a diagnostic decision about ADHD, the findings showed.
At 6 months, 76 per cent of those with a QbTest report had received a diagnostic decision, compared with 50 per cent without.
The computerised test reduced appointment length by 15 per cent, increased clinicians' confidence in their diagnostic decisions, and doubled the likelihood of excluding ADHD.
"The results suggest that QbTest is ready for implementation within the ADHD assessment pathway in the UK, and other countries with similarly long delays to diagnosis, where it is likely to lead to earlier diagnostic decisions and significant healthcare system efficiencies," Hollis added.