Landmark ADHD Study Reevaluated

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Registered: 11-13-2008
Landmark ADHD Study Reevaluated
Tue, 12-31-2013 - 8:47am

Experts have been reevaluating a governmental study done two decades ago that found that drug therapy alone worked better for ADHD versus behavorial therapy or a combination of the two: 

Professionals worry that the findings have overshadowed the long-term benefits of school- and family-based skills programs. The original findings also gave pharmaceutical companies a significant marketing tool -- now more than two-thirds of American kids with ADHD take medication for the condition. And insurers have also used the study to deny coverage of psychosocial therapy, which costs more than daily medication but may deliver longer-lasting benefits, according to the Times.

According to the news report, an insured family might pay $200 a year for stimulants, while individual or family therapy can be time-consuming and expensive, reaching $1,000 or more.


Some experts today cite limitations of the original study, which looked at classic ADHD symptoms such as forgetfulness and restlessness over academic achievement and family and peer interactions. This gave medication an edge over therapy from the get-go, several people involved with the study told the Times.

"When you asked families what they really liked, they liked combined treatment," said Dr. Peter Jensen, formerly head of child psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) who oversaw the study for the institute. "They didn't not like medicine, but they valued skill training. What doctors think are the best outcomes and what families think are the best outcomes aren't always the same thing."

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In our dealings with ADHD, we've always looked to both drugs and behavior therapy as ways to help my son.  There is no way that therapy alone would work with his inattentiveness, and conversely, meds wouldn't have helped other issues he deals with.  Do you think that the study has hurt kids with ADHD?