ADHD medication reduces accidents significantly according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry.
Chang and colleagues analyzed data in the Truven Health Analytics MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters database to identify people aged 18 and older who had received an ADHD diagnosis or ADHD medication between January 2005 and the end of December 2014. The researchers compared the number of emergency department visits for motor vehicle crashes for the ADHD group with a set of controls matched by a number of characteristics.
There was a very large group of ADHD patients in the study (2,319,450 patients diagnosed with ADHD including 1,121,053 men and 1,198,397 women).
Patients with ADHD had a significantly higher risk of a motor vehicle crash than their matched controls (odds ratio [OR]=1.49 for men and OR=1.44 for women).
According to the findings in the study, ADHD medication use reduces accidents significantly, so that the increased risk compared with those without ADHD is nearly completely eliminated. Subjects with ADHD were 38% and 42%, respectively, less likely to have motor vehicle crashes during medicated months when compared to unmedicated months.
In an article in Psychiatric News summarizing the finding, the authors comment on the implications of the study.
“[T]his study is the first to date to demonstrate a long-term association between receiving ADHD medication and decreased MVCs [motor vehicle crashes]. If this result indeed reflects a protective effect, it is possible that sustained ADHD medication use might lead to lower risk of comorbid problems … or contribute to long-term improvements in life functioning,” the authors wrote.
In a related editorial, Vishal Madaan, M.D., and Daniel Cox, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia Health System noted that the findings reaffirm support for the use of ADHD medications for drivers with ADHD who respond to the medications. However, they emphasized that some medications may be less effective later in the day when the medications may have worn off.
“Individualizing and optimizing ADHD pharmacotherapy, while being mindful of adverse effects and the potential for abuse, is the most prudent way forward,” the researchers concluded.
Chang Z, Quinn PD, Hur K, Gibbons RD, Sjolander A, Larsson H, D’Onofrio BM. Association Between Medication Use for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 10, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0659