Introduction Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects 3–6% of children. Up to 70% of those experience sleep problems, the commonest being chronic insomnia (CI). Sleep problems can worsen ADHD symptoms and academic/emotional functioning, somatic conditions (e.g. obesity), quality of life, and affect the wider family. Behavioural sleep interventions are effective and recommended as first-line treatment. In clinical practice, behavioural interventions are poorly supported and instead melatonin prescribed.
The DISCA programme aims to develop an online behavioural intervention to support parents/carers of children with ADHD and CI. This qualitative study explores parent/carer experiences and views about managing sleep problems in their children with ADHD.
Method Remote semi-structured interviews with 20–25 parents/carers of children aged 6–12 years with ADHD and CI. Recruitment is ongoing via social media and a fostering organisation. Interviews are recorded, transcribed, and undergoing reflexive thematic analysis. Preliminary themes to inform intervention content are identified by detailed interview summaries, field notes, transcripts, and team discussion.
Results 12 interviews have taken place with 13 purposively sampled participants with diverse parent participant and child characteristics (ethnic background, age, insomnia characteristics, ADHD diagnosis) and family composition.
Preliminary findings highlighted that parents were frustrated having tried many strategies to help their children sleep. They appeared to have ‘normalised’ sleep problems. They felt behavioural sleep strategies are not useful or challenging to implement for these children. This often led to avoiding or ‘giving up’ on strategies, and the use of medication instead. Flexible advice that accommodates family needs is important. Parents wanted to feel emotionally supported/reassured. They wanted information about how to involve their children with a management plan.
Discussion Findings will inform the development of a digital intervention for parents/carers of children with ADHD and CI. Appropriate communication and further information about sleep management strategies is needed.
This study/project is funded by the NIHR PGfAR.
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