A new study published in the Sept. 2 online edition of Pediatrics found that taking into account parents’ goals for the treatment of their child’s attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) made a difference in the treatment option they chose.
Researchers found that parents who were most concerned about their child’s academic achievements chose medications like Adderall or Ritalin as a course of treatment. Parents worried about their child’s behavior favored behavior therapy as an initial treatment.
“Studies like this really suggest that taking a shared decision-making approach may be one way to match the kids for whom [treatment] is warranted to the best treatment,” lead study author by Alexander G. Fiks, MD, of the Pediatric Research Consortium at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told Reuters Health.
Study researchers surveyed the parents and guardians of 148 children with ADHD, ages 6 to 12. Questions in the survey included the acceptability, feasibility and side-effects associate with different treatment options.
Some of the children in the study were taking medications for their ADHD symptoms, and some were undergoing behavior therapy. None were using a combination of both treatments at the outset.
Researchers followed up six months after the survey was administered and found that 46 of 108 children not initially using medication had started on the drugs and 30 out of 124 had started behavior therapy.
The study authors were not surprised to find that parents who had agreed with survey statements such as “Medication is a reasonable way to help my child” were more likely to go the medication route. Likewise, parents who rated behavior therapy as more acceptable were more likely to have initiated behavior therapy for their children.
What was surprising to Fiks and his colleagues was how closely treatment goals aligned with which families chose medication and which chose behavior therapy.
For Laurel Leslie, MD, associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, the results support scientific evidence.
Leslie, who has studied ADHD treatment but was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health, “What we know is a lot of medications last under eight hours. So if you’re taking a medication, it’s probably only working during school time."
Behavior therapy is going to have the strongest effects with the family at night and on weekends, added Leslie.
Study authors concluded that it is important for families to be involved when deciding treatment options for their child.
“If clinicians can bring evidence to parents, and parents can share their values and goals with their child’s doctor, the decision-making process can be easier and it’s likely to yield better outcomes,” Fiks told HealthDay.