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Researcher to be sacked after reporting high rates of ADHD

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 24 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:691
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. New York

A US researcher who said that doctors and psychologists may be overdiagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children has been placed on administrative leave “with intent to terminate” her employment. The move came after charges of scientific misconduct against her, and her computers have been seized.

Dr Gretchen LeFever, a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the department of paediatrics at the East Virginia Medical School, was notified that the school intends to terminate her employment with effect from the end of March.

Her work has been controversial. She first made headline news in 1999 when she reported that 8% to 10% of elementary school pupils in southeastern Virginia were being prescribed drugs for ADHD, a percentage two to three times the estimated national average (American Journal of Public Health 1999;89:1359-64).

Criticism grew after she published the results of a 2002 study showing that the prevalence of the disorder among children in grades 2 to 5 had risen to 17% (Psychology in the Schools 2002;39:63-71).

In December Gerald Pepe, interim dean of the medical school, wrote …

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