Considerations and evidence for an ADHD outcome measure

Donna Woods*, Mark Wolraich, Karen Pierce, Lindsay Dimarco, Nicole Muller, Ramesh Sachdeva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective The 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) guideline emphasizes monitoring and measuring outcomes of children diagnosed with ADHD; however, recommendations for how to measure improvement are less clear. A long-term goal was to develop an outcome measure that assesses the quality of care for children with ADHD. As a first step in that process, we conducted a literature synthesis on the efficacy and effectiveness of guideline-recommended ADHD treatments on patient outcomes. Methods A literature search was conducted in PubMed according to PRISMA protocol and using MeSH terms. US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) criteria were used to assess the level of evidence. Studies of interest were published after 2002 and assessed prospective ADHD improvement using recommended ADHD treatments. Results The systematic review resulted in 35 studies. According to USPSTF criteria, included studies were level I (n = 24), level II-1 (n = 1), and level II-2 (n = 10) and were rated as good (n = 20) or fair (n = 15). DSM-criteria-based rating scales were used most frequently to measure ADHD treatment outcomes. All included treatments resulted in ADHD improvement. Regardless of outcome measure, tool, or treatment type, symptom reduction and improvement were relatively large, with mean percentage reductions ranging from 20% to 86% on ADHD-Behavior Rating Scales scales, with only 1 study with <25% reduction. Effect sizes ranged from 0.15 to 4.57. Conclusions On the basis of this literature review, a consistent pattern of improvement in pediatric ADHD patients' core symptoms emerged across studies, study designs, and recommended treatment approaches. This evidence supports the notion that an improvement of core symptoms within 1 year could satisfy the requirements of an effective outcome measure, which should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S54-S60
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 2014


  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • mental health
  • outcome measures
  • pediatrics
  • quality of health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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