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Assessing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) specific knowledge in educators and identifying demographic predictors pertaining to educators’ knowledge of ADHD within the South African context.

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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most researched and controversial of all the childhood-onset disorders. It is also one of the most common disorders, with a high diagnosis rate in South Africa. Research over the last two decades shows a diagnosis prevalence rate of between 5 and 10%, thus making it one of the most commonly occurring disorders affecting South African children and adolescents. Despite its high rate of prevalence, ADHD is a condition that is largely misunderstood amongst parents, educators, and even medical practitioners such as doctors. Research has shown that educators have a basic understanding of ADHD but are not familiar with the more complex details related to its symptoms, treatment and associated features. This raises concern as educators are uniquely placed in the system to perform an instrumental role in the process that leads to ADHD referral and diagnosis. Therefore, this study aimed to measure levels of general knowledge amongst educators in the areas of ADHD associated features, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. It also set out to identify if there were any demographic predictors relating to educators’ level of ADHD knowledge. Knowledge levels were measured using the KADDS Knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (KADDS), which is a questionnaire that measures an educator’s level of ADHD knowledge using the categories mentioned above. The KADDS questionnaire was administered along with a demographic questionnaire to 172 educators from primary and secondary schools located in the central Durban area. A demographic questionnaire was also administered to the same sample. Results from this study demonstrated that South African educators based in Durban had an overall level of knowledge rate of 47.14%. The scores obtained during this study fall within the average range of scores obtained from studies using the KADDS instrument, both nationally and internationally. The possible relationship between educators’ level of ADHD knowledge and their demographic characteristics was investigated using correlational analyses. The variable “sex”, which refers to the biological endowment (male/female) was the greatest contributing variable of all the options used in this study. The female sex in this study were found to have greater knowledge of ADHD than their male counterparts. These finding are relevant within the South African context as mental health and the stigma it carries is a barrier to seeking knowledge and being educated on such disorders as ADHD. The findings from this study contribute to the body of knowledge on levels of knowledge among educators in South Africa. Recommendations arising from this study include educators having increased exposure to pre-service and in-service ADHD related training. Educators also require practical experience and exposure to children suffering from ADHD, which will increase their understanding and knowledge of this disorder. Knowledge of self-efficacy as a variable, and its positive association with ADHD knowledge requires further exploration. Finally, it is recommended that further research is conducted on the role that gender plays in terms of the levels of ADHD knowledge among educators.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.