Parents Team Up with Doctors for ADHD

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ADHD treatment goals of parents reflected ultimate treatment for children

September 1, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) With many medical conditions, a variety of treatments may be available to choose from. Parents can sometimes play a role in helping doctors select appropriate treatments for their child.

A recent study found that taking parents' goals into account for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) made a difference in children's treatment plans.

The treatment that children ultimately received reflected the goals the parents had for their child.

The findings confirmed the value of parent input into the treatment goals and plans for children with this disorder.

"Tell your pediatrician your goals for your child's treatment."

The study, led by Alexander G. Fiks, MD, of the Pediatric Research Consortium at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, looked at how parents' preferences and goals regarding ADHD treatment affects the children's treatment.

The researchers studied 148 parents/guardians with children aged 6 to 12 years old.

All the children had been diagnosed with ADHD within the previous year and a half but were not receiving combined treatment of medication with behavior therapy.

At the start of the study, the parents completed a detailed questionnaire about their preferences and goals regarding their children's treatment for ADHD.

Then, six months later, the parents reported what kind of treatment their children were receiving for ADHD.

The researchers found that parents who preferred their children be treated with medication and/or behavior therapy were about 2.6 times more likely to begin having their children treated for the condition.

Parents whose treatment goals included their child's academic achievement were about twice as likely to put their children on medication than parents who did not list this as a goal.

Meanwhile, parents whose goals included better behavior from their child were about 1.6 times more likely to start their child on behavior therapy than parents who did not rank this as a goal.

Six months after the study began, the parents also completed the questionnaire about goals and preferences again.

This time, those parents whose children had begun medication or behavior therapy were less likely to list academic achievement or behavior improvements as goals.

This finding led the researchers to conclude that these families had likely achieved their earlier goals in these areas.

Yet, only parents of children who had begun behavior therapy were more likely to rank the goal of improved interpersonal relationships lower.

This later finding implied that only parents of children who began behavior therapy were likely finding the goal of interpersonal relationship to have been met.

"Parental treatment preferences were associated with treatment initiation, and those with distinct goals selected different treatments," the researchers wrote.

The researchers noted that the results support the inclusion of parents' preferences and goals in treatment plans for children with ADHD.

“The authors nicely demonstrate that parents often have specific goals in mind when seeking treatment for their child with ADHD," said Glen Elliott, MD, PhD, a clinical professor at the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

He said the author show that parents "tend to seek out the type of treatment they believe is most likely to meet those goals and that, six months later, those who obtained the treatment they sought reported progress in achieving their goals."

He said that the results show the importance of parent involvement.

"The possibility of a placebo effect certainly exists, but the broader point is that good treatment planning should include explicit discussion with parents what they hope to achieve and the best information available about how they and their child might achieve those goals," Dr. Elliott said.

The study was published September 2 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.