Methylphenidate Effects on Functional Outcomes in the Preschoolers with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Treatment Study (PATS)
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of methylphenidate (MPH) on functional outcomes, including children's social skills, classroom behavior, emotional status, and parenting stress, during the 4-week, double-blind placebo controlled phase of the Preschoolers with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Treatment Study (PATS). METHODS: A total of 114 preschoolers who had improved with acute MPH treatment, were randomized to their best MPH dose (M = 14.22 mg/day; n = 63) or placebo (PL; n = 51). Assessments included the Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S), parent and teacher versions of the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD-Symptoms and Normal Behaviors (SWAN), Social Competence Scale (SCS), Social Skills Rating System (SSRS), and Early Childhood Inventory (ECI), and Parenting Stress Index (PSI). RESULTS: Medication effects varied by informant and outcome measure. Parent measures and teacher SWAN scores did not differentially improve with MPH. Parent-rated depression (p < 0.02) and dysthymia (p < 0.001) on the ECI worsened with MPH, but scores were not in the clinical range. Significant medication effects were found on clinician CGI-S (p < 0.0001) and teacher social competence ratings (SCS, p < 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Preschoolers with ADHD treated with MPH for 4 weeks improve in some aspects of functioning. Additional improvements might require longer treatment, higher doses, and/or intensive behavioral treatment in combination with medication.