The study and results
The National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs sponsored a collaborative multi-modal treatment study performed by 6 independent research teams to study the leading treatments for AD/HD. The clinical trial includes nearly 600 elementary school children, in six sites across the US and Canada, ages 7-9 randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups:
- medication management
- intensive behavioral treatment
- a combination of medication management and behavioral therapy
- routine community care
Although some improvement was noted in all treatment groups, medication alone and in combination were significantly superior on measured outcomes such as academic performance and familial relations to behavioral therapy alone in reducing the symptoms of AD/HD The combination condition provided a higher level of consumer satisfaction and greater benefits for teacher-reported social skills and achieved similar results to medication alone with somewhat lower doses of medication.
This study provides long-term data in controlled conditions comparing treatments for AD/HD.
The treatment groups that included medication provided intensive medication management in contrast to routine community care. The study-provided medication program included monthly family visits and monthly school input to adjust medication levels. Routine family medical care generally saw patients less often and provided lower doses of stimulants.
Across several states and one province in Canada, for groups of young children with AD/HD, a program that combines carefully monitored medication and behavior therapy proved effective and promoted consumer satisfaction.