School-Based Methylphenidate Placebo Protocols: Methodological and Practical Issues

Irwin A. Hyman*, Alexandra Wojtowicz, Kee Duk Lee, Mary Elizabeth Haffner, Catherine A. Fiorello, J. Jordan Storlazzi, Joseph Rosenfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Around 1990, psychologists and educators began to notice increasing use of methylphenidate by students. Diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder by family physicians and pediatricians was most commonly based on brief behavioral descriptions by parents and, infrequently, by use of rating scales. At that time, the present researchers began to explore the development of a school-based, methodologically sound, and inexpensive method of assessing the efficacy of stimulant medications, which would ensure reasonable compliance by teachers, parents, and students in monitoring the effects of medications and placebos. This article focuses on the methodological issues involved in choosing instruments to monitor behavior, once a comprehensive evaluation has suggested trials on Ritalin. Case examples illustrate problems of teacher compliance in filling out measures, supplying adequate placebos, and obtaining physician cooperation, and with the practical issue of providing adequate data without overwhelming the time and resources of participants. Emerging school-based methodologies are discussed with recommendations for future efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-594+614
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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