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Online program helps tame ADHD symptoms

Childhood ADHD: to medicate, or not to medicate? This debate has been raging for decades, with staunch advocates on each side. Now, there’s more positive news for those in the anti-medication camp.

A University of Queensland study of an online program for parents of children with ADHD, as a treatment for this disorder, has yielded promising results.

“This is the first study in the world to demonstrate that an online program can generate improvements for these families,” UQ Parenting and Family Support Centre director and study co-author professor Matt Sanders said.

The study was carried out by University of Auckland researchers and published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.

Researchers engaged 53 New Zealand families that had children aged 3 to 4 who exhibited acute hyperactivity and inattentiveness. Parents accessed the online program, ‘Triple P’, for four months. They also participated in two phone consultations for tailored advice.

Following the study, they reported a substantial decrease in their stress and depression levels, as well as increased parenting satisfaction: the latter due to enhanced parental confidence and child manageability.

Sanders said the study reinforced international clinical guidelines that suggest families with preschool-aged children who exhibit ADHD symptoms should try behavioural treatments before tablets.

Yet the Australian position differs. The 2012 National Health and Medical Research Council ADHD recommendations state, “Both medication and combined medication and behavioural treatment have been shown to be more effective in treating ADHD symptoms than psychosocial or behavioural interventions alone.”

With the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne citing a 3 to 5 per cent ADHD prevalence rate among Australian children, any research offering some clarity on its treatment is welcome.

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