In 1996, medical experts working in the field of ADHD in Canada took part in a Ministry of Health-sponsored forum in Ottawa which was called the Canadian ADHD Research Alliance. The focus was on the development of research in the field. Unfortunately, after three days of planning and networking, the dream was not able to pass the test of time.
However, the idea of a national ADHD medical professional organization remained alive in the hearts of three original CADDRA attendees, Drs. Rosemary Tannock, Lily Hechtman and Umesh Jain. They continued to meet as CADDRA at the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meetings for the next few years. Then, in the fall of 2002, Dr. Jain was encouraged by colleagues to take the lead in developing a national initiative that would eventually recreate CADDRA in 2003 as a “Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance”.
Some basic principles were set in place:
- The board was kept small to ensure that everyone shared the same vision
- A business plan and sustainable funding strategy was developed, and
- A clear mandate with achievable but innovative projects was approved.
CADDRA was nationally incorporated as a not-for-profit in 2006 with a founding board that included Dr. Lily Hechtman; Dr. Umesh Jain (chair); Dr. Declan Quinn; Dr. Diane Sachs; Dr. Sarah Shea; Dr. Derryck Smith; Dr. Atilla Turgay; Dr. Annick Vincent; Dr. Margaret Weiss. CADDRA’s central goal was the development and dissemination of made-in-Canada information based on evidence-based or consensus data that had practical applications for the front-line clinician. In 2006, the first Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines was published with Dr. Jain as main editor on the 1st edition (and supervising editor on all three editions); Dr Atilla Turgay on the 2nd edition (2008) and Drs. Margaret Weiss and Annick Vincent on the 3rd edition. The 4th edition will be published later in fall 2017.
Also critical to the growth of CADDRA was the contribution of Heidi Bernhardt as Executive Director (2006-2013), during which time the CADDRA annual conference also grew in scope and popularity. Niamh McGarry took over as Executive Director in 2013. The other current staff members are Carol Simpson (administrator) and Carina Gustafsson-Smith (membership). CADDRA has continued to develop and expand with the addition of an annual ADHD Research Day, ADHD Institutes and eLearning portal and an increasing involvement in advocacy initiatives throughout Canada.
The current CADDRA board includes representation from child and adult psychiatry, family medicine, pediatrics and psychology from across Canada. Its growing CADDRA membership include medical and healthcare professionals from Canada and abroad.
Today, 14 years later, CADDRA:
- Publishes the fourth edition of the Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines this October
- Holds its 13th Annual CADDRA ADHD Conference which this year is in Quebec City
- Runs the 4th Annual ADHD Research Day and ADHD Institute workshop also in Quebec City in October.
- Advocates for increased resources and support for health care professionals and their patients on a provincial and national basis
- Operates an eLearning portal as a depository for webcasts, audio podcasts, ePosters and article reviews
- Functions as a Canadian national not-for-profit with dedicated staff and governed by a Board of Directors with national and cross-disciplinary representation.