What’s better than meds for kids with ADHD? Changing the behavior of parents.

parentSo says a study published in Pediatrics this week. The researchers reviewed 55 studies — 34 looked at parent behavior training (PBT), 15 at the used of prescription drugs, specifically methylphenidate, and six looked at a combination of parent training and school or day-care interventions.

The study was done, according to MedPageToday.com reporter Charles Bankhead, because the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, realized that there wasn’t much known about whether drugs or parent-behavior training were more effective in reducing symptoms in pre-school children at high risk for ADHD.

So, according to the article, Dr. Alice Charach, of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and her colleagues asked this question: “Among children younger than 6 years with ADHD or disruptive behavior disorder, what are the effectiveness and adverse-event outcomes after treatment?”

Their conclusion: “With more studies consistently documenting effectiveness, PBT interventions have greater evidence of effectiveness than methylphenidate for treatment of preschoolers at risk for ADHD.” The results from the combination of parent training and school-based training were inconsistent.

Bankhead quoted the researchers:

“The evidence-based PBT interventions included in this review improve parenting skills and improve child disruptive behavior, including core symptoms of ADHD,” the authors concluded. “Community physicians are in an excellent position to initiate the assessments required, guide parents to evidence-based programs where available, monitor these conditions over time, and advocate for increased resources in communities where they do not yet exist.”

An example of parent-behavior training is The Incredible Years program, developed by Dr. Carolyn Webster, professor emeritus and founder of the Parenting Clinic at the University of Washington.

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