"Even the dog has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" (ADHD). A cross-cultural comparative study of parents’ and teachers’ knowledge and attitudes towards ADHD in Scotland and Romania

  • Madalina Teodora Toma

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The aim of this research was to investigate the way in which ADHD is understood and constructed within Romania and Scotland, comparing and contrasting the discourses that constitute ADHD within different cultural contexts.Overall, this study employed a mixed method design based on a concurrent nested approach which was undertaken in 2 phases. In phase 1, 50 parents, 72 primary school teachers and 48 support staff from Scotland, and 50 parents, 86 primary school teachers and 57 support staff from Romania, completed a self-report questionnaire that measured their knowledge and attitudes towards ADHD. The statistical results showed that, for the knowledge of ADHD test, both sample of parents, teachers and support staff scored the highest at symptoms/diagnosis subscale. Parents,teachers and support staff from the Romanian sample scored the lowest at the treatment subscale whereas the Scottish respondents had difficulties in answering questions about the nature, causes and prognosis of ADHD. In terms of their self-reported attitudes, both samples of Scottish and Romanian parents, teachers and support staff scored the highest on the affective attitude subscale. Scottish teachers and support staff scored the lowest on the behavioural attitude subscale whereas Romanian teachers and support staff scored the lowest on the cognitive attitude subscale. On the other hand, both samples of Scottish and Romanian parents scored the lowest on the behavioural attitude subscale. These patterns were further explored in phase 2 of the study, where 5 Scottish and Romanian mothers, 3 Scottish and Romanian primary-school teachers and 3 Scottish and Romanian support staff were selected to take part in a semi-structured interview. Parents, teachers and support staff from both countries responded within a medical model of disability employing themes such as ADHD as a medical condition, the medicalisation of behaviour, behaviour as out of control or the specialness of ADHD. However, participants also adopted a social conceptualisation of ADHD, referring to ADHD as a social phenomenon, resisting medicalisation and describing the educational and medical "wrongs". Reflecting the uncertainty in the field, participants’ conceptualisation of ADHD expanded, modified or even shifted from one perspective to another. The cross-cultural comparisons used the Appadurai's theoretical framework of "scapes" to explain the global nature of ADHD as well as the differences between Scottish and Romanian parents, teachers and support staff in relation to the three most important results of this study: treatment of ADHD, inclusion of children diagnosed with ADHD in mainstream education and parents’ and teachers’ willingness to get involved. The findings have been used to develop a multidisciplinary framework for support, empowering teachers and parents with knowledge of ADHD and improving cross-professional relationships. The fundamental idea of this framework is that it moves beyond the deficit paradigm, helping teachers, parents and stakeholders to be alert and responsive to the various conceptualisations of ADHD and to understand how these schemata have come into existence in specific periods of time and in different cultural contexts.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Stirling
    SupervisorAllan Julie (Supervisor), Allen Thurston (Supervisor), Ralph Catts (Supervisor) & John Field (Supervisor)

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