Short-term Intensive Treatment Not Likely to Improve Long-term Outcomes for Children with ADHD
Initial positive results gleaned from intensive treatment of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are unlikely to be sustained over the long term, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA). The study was published online ahead of print March 2009 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Using reports from parents and teachers as well as self-reports from the children, now high school-aged, the researchers found that the youth’s functioning remained improved overall compared to their functioning at the beginning of the study, suggesting that available treatments can still be effective. However, they also found the following:
- The eight-year follow-up revealed no differences in symptoms or functioning among the youths assigned to the different treatment groups as children. This result suggests that the type or intensity of a one-year treatment for ADHD in childhood does not predict future functioning.
- A majority (61.5 percent) of the children who were medicated at the end of the 14-month trial had stopped taking medication by the eight-year follow-up, suggesting that medication treatment may lose appeal with families over time. The reasons for this decline are under investigation, but they nevertheless signal the need for alternative treatments.
- Children who were no longer taking medication at the eight-year follow-up were generally functioning as well as children who were still medicated, raising questions about whether medication treatment beyond two years continues to be beneficial or needed by all.
Basically, parents become disillusioned with the failed promise of the easy fix of drugs for the treatment of this "condition"