Educational practitioners’ beliefs and conceptualisation about the cause of ADHD: A qualitative study

Abigail Emma Russell*, Darren A. Moore, Tamsin Ford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
339 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Educational practitioners play an important role in the referral and treatment of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to explore how educational practitioners conceptualise their beliefs about the causes of symptoms of ADHD. Method: Forty-one educational practitioners from schools in the United Kingdom participated in focus groups or individual interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Practitioners’ beliefs fell into two categories: biological and environmental. Practitioners conceptualised the causes of ADHD in lay-theoretical models: a ‘True’ ADHD model considered that symptoms of ADHD in many cases were due to adverse environments; and a model whereby a biological predisposition is the root of the cause of the child’s symptoms. Conclusion: Differential beliefs about the causes of ADHD may lead to practitioners blaming parents for a child’s behaviour and discounting ADHD as a valid condition. This has implications for the effective support of children with ADHD in schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-118
Number of pages18
JournalEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • ADHD
  • mental health
  • schools
  • teachers
  • theory

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