Slagboom, M. Nienke, Christian Bröer, & Jonathan Berg (2021, November). Negotiating ADHD: Pragmatic medicalization and creolization in urban India. Social Science & Medicine, 289, art. 114400. (Open Access:

Abstract: Although a growing number of studies have demonstrated differences in responses to ADHD-like behaviours, very few studies have focused on theorizing diversity in the way ADHD is framed and approached globally. To contribute to the study of medicalization in a global context, this study examines the discursive field in which care professionals explain and treat ADHD among children in metropolitan India and addresses the need for an analytic framework to grasp the variations in the way ADHD is understood and approached. Building on the concepts of pragmatic medicalization and creolization, we study ADHD discourses in India asking ‘What is at stake’ and ‘What matters most’? In this mixed methods study, 64 care professionals regularly involved in assessing ADHD-like behaviour completed an online Q-sort, and 21 professionals participated in face-to-face interviews. The Q-data were subjected to factor analysis. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analyses. Our study identified six distinct ADHD discourses, which showed that care professionals combine explanatory and treatment models. Professionals adapt their explanations and treatments of ADHD to parents’ worries regarding academic performance, family prestige, stigma and side effects of allopathic medicine. Our findings indicate that an awareness of local concerns and adjustments to structural opportunities can diversify how ADHD-like behaviour is framed and responded to. This study demonstrates that medicalization operates between the emerging institutions of care and the everyday concerns of families and care professionals and reveals the need to examine conflicting stakes as drivers of diverse responses to ADHD diagnosis and treatment in India and the rest of the world.

M Nienke Slagboom <> is in Public Health and Primary Care, Leiden University Medical Centre, the Netherlands.