A Study of Treatment Methods for ADHD Students
Which treatment is best for a child with ADHD? This is the question that is foremost in the parents’ mind. Thus, a long-term study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of four different types of treatment program. These programs are 1) the medication management only, 2) the behavioral treatment only, 3) the combination of medication management and behavioral treatment, and 4) the routine community care. The study involved 579 elementary-age children who were diagnosed with ADHD and separated into the four treatment programs.
The “medication management only" program entailed regular half-hour medication visits with the prescribing physician. The physician dealt with concerns that parents have regarding the medication treatment. The physician also conferred with teachers to discuss the children’s behavior, but the physician did not conduct any counseling or behavioral therapy.
The “behavior treatment only" program involved numerous activities such as group sessions of families, school visits, assignation of special aides to each child with ADHD, and an intensive behavioral therapy given during an 8-week summer camp. The third treatment program combined the medication and the behavioral procedures. And lastly, in the fourth program, the parents choose a community-treatment doctor who meets with the family for up to two times a year. The community doctor, unlike the prescribed physician, did not meet with the children’s teachers.
Results of the Study
After 14 months, and based on the data and results gathered by researchers through regular assessments, it has been found that the “medication management only" program is more effective in helping the ADHD children handle their symptoms than the “behavioral treatment only" program and the “routine community program." The combination of medication and behavioral treatments was effective in decreasing the ADHD children’s anxiety. It was also effective in reducing defiance or oppositional disorder, mastering social skills, developing better parent-child relationships, and achieving good academic performance.
Multimodal Treatment is Found
The results of this study demonstrate two vital aspects about ADHD. First, ADHD is essentially a medical disorder that is primarily addressed by medications. Second, a combination of two treatment programs – a multi-modal treatment – is far more superior in helping the children with ADHD to cope with the symptoms.
The MTA Cooperative Group. A 14-month randomized clinical trial of treatment strategies for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Archives of General Psychiatry, 1999;56:1073-1086.