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FDA-Cleared Diagnostic Tool May Improve Speed, Accuracy of ADHD Diagnoses, Study Finds

A randomized, controlled study found that a computerized tool called QbTest may make it easier for clinicians to accurately diagnose or rule out ADHD in fewer office visits.




May 23, 2018

To diagnose ADHD, clinicians must rely primarily on self-, parent-, or teacher-reported symptoms, which can be misremembered or otherwise distorted. The process, if done correctly, can take several office visits — a time constraint and logistic hassle for patients and providers. Now, a study finds that QbTest — a computerized ADHD diagnostic tool that has been cleared by the FDA — may significantly reduce the time needed to diagnose ADHD, without compromising accuracy.

The study, known as the AQUA Trial, was conducted by a team at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Two hundred and fifty children between the ages of 6 and 17 who had been previously referred for an ADHD assessment were randomized to be diagnosed by a clinician with access to a QbTest or by a clinician without access. All participants underwent additional assessment using standard diagnostic practices, to determine if an ADHD diagnosis was warranted.

Clinicians who had access to a QbTest reduced the diagnosis timeline by 44 percent, the study found, and were 77 percent more likely to be confident in their final diagnosis. They also reduced their consultation time with patients by 15 percent, and were 2.14 times more likely to rule out ADHD when standard diagnostic practices indicated it wasn’t present.

The QbTest takes 15 to 20 minutes, and requires patients to respond to stimuli on a computer screen while wearing a specialized reflector on their forehead. Once the test is complete, the clinician is given a report of the results, adjusted to reflect the age and gender norms relevant to the patient.

“The results suggest that QbTest is ready for implementation within the ADHD assessment pathway in the UK, and in other countries with similarly long delays to diagnosis, where it is likely to lead to earlier diagnostic decisions and significant healthcare system efficiencies,” said principal investigator Chris Hollis in a statement.

The study1 was published in April in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.


1 Hollis, Chris, et al. “The Impact of a Computerised Test of Attention and Activity (QbTest) on Diagnostic Decision-Making in Children and Young People with Suspected Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Single-Blind Randomised Controlled Trial.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1111/jcpp.12921.

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  1. This is great, except each credit, or report run for a patient, is $69! When insurance reimburse sometimes as low as $80/testing hour, it’s totally not worth it. Yes, the patient can pay, but not if they have state insurance – that’s not allowed. And you have to buy in bulk, so unless you work for a hospital or something, it doesn’t make sense… I have it, and it’s great – got it for free at a CHADD conference; but after I used my free credits, I can’t afford to run it anymore. Any word on whether they’ll lower the price, or if insurance will reimburse at a rate that keeps up with the price of these tests? Testing is so expensive, so the checklists make the most sense if you’re a psychologist who wants to, you know, support your family at the same time… it’s very frustrating and unfortunate.

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