Did the TV personality dispense misleading information about AD/HD to his viewers?
After Dr. Phil McGraw featured a child with AD/HD on his television program, Family First, several months ago, some AD/HD and advocacy groups complained that he gave misleading information to his viewing audience.
"While your program certainly helped raise awareness of the disorder," wrote E. Clarke Ross, chief executive officer of Children and Adults with ADD (CHADD), in a letter to McGraw, "we are concerned that the majority of your recommendations were not scientifically grounded, and may have confused your viewers, perhaps even leading some down inappropriate paths in search of solutions that are questionable, perhaps even harmful."
The show, which was called "Pills as Parenting," focused on conflict between two parents over whether to use medication to treat their son for AD/HD.
While praising McGraw for portraying the disorder somewhat accurately, Ross criticized him for claiming that too much sugar can cause AD/HD, that medication is effective for only half of those with AD/HD, and that neurofeedback is an effective alternative to medication. Ross also blasted the show's sensationalist title. Several mental health groups echoed Ross's concerns in letters to McGraw and to CBS-TV, the network that aired the show.
"Unfortunately, you missed a key teaching opportunity," Ross wrote. "Next time, please do your homework."