Parents Accurately Assess Kids' ADHD Treatment
Wed Jun 9, 2004
By Merritt McKinney

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Doctors often rely on teachers to let them know how well a child responds to treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but parents are just as accurate at reporting changes in their child's behavior, research shows.

"The main point is that when long-acting medicines are used in the treatment of children with ADHD, parents' reports are as informative as teachers'," lead author Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard Medical School (news - web sites) in Boston told Reuters Health.

Being able to rely on parents' reports as well as teachers' will greatly facilitate the feedback that physicians need to guide the treatment of children with ADHD, according to Biederman.

One reason that doctors have tended to rely on teachers' reports about children's behavior has to do with how ADHD was first treated. Traditionally, children with ADHD were given medication only during the school day. Since children were not taking their ADHD medication at night and on the weekend, it made sense to ask teachers how well the treatment worked.

Recently, however, there has been greater recognition that the impact of ADHD on a child's life is not limited to the classroom. Because of this, children with ADHD usually take their medication every day. Also, newer long-acting drugs work throughout the day.

To compare parents' reports with those of teachers, Biederman and his colleagues reviewed three previously published studies that included reports from both parents and teachers.

Parents were able to detect changes in their child's behavior just as well as teachers, the researchers report in the medical journal Pediatrics.

Both parents and teachers reported that ADHD symptoms improved when children were on drug therapy. In fact, parents seemed to notice a larger effect than teachers in two of the studies.

Teachers' reports remain valuable, but they are much more difficult to obtain than parents', the authors note.

For example, a student may have several teachers, each of whom sees the student for only a short period each day. Also, teachers are not available during vacations, when parents often schedule checkups for their children with ADHD, the authors note.

Overall, the study's findings may make it easier for researchers to accurately evaluate the effects of ADHD treatment, the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, June 2004