Background. Survival rates in children with neurological diseases increased in the last years with regard to modern medical treatment. Late effects are well known and often described, especially attention disorders. However, poor definitions and resulting confusions of terms may lead to incorrect diagnosis of attention disorders in children. The aim of the study therefore was to develop guidelines for neuropsychological assessment of attention disorders in children in order to allow appropriate treatment and meet patients needs best.
Methods. To describe attention in children a taxonomy including differentiable components was developed. Modell-Fit was proofed by structural equation model related to neuropsychological test data. Additionally two methods of assessment were developed: An instrument for “standardized behavioral observation” and an “attention questionnaire scale by proxy” (AUF-PS 24/7-E). N = 757 healthy controls between 6 16 years from different school types and 180 children with different neurological diseases or behavioral or rather developmental disorders were included. Groups werde statistically analyzed by ANOVA, Mann-Whitney-U-Test, KruskalWallis-Test, Welch-Test or X-Test.
Results. Every level of assessment can be described as valid and reliable method for diagnosis of attention deficits, even though with varying quality. Notable is the high number of children, who are not identified correctly with behavioral observation or parental ratings alone. The taxonomy for attention in children shows a good model fit. Different results were detected with regard to age. Specific attention deficits in different neurological diseases were detected.
Conclusion. Only multidimensional assessment of attention allows comprehensive and differentiated diagnosis of attentional deficits. The need for the proposed guidelines for neuropsychological assessment turned out to be evident. The draft for the guidelines will be prepared based on the results of the study.