UMD Psychology-Led Research Focuses on Families Dealing with ADHD in Mothers and Children
Because Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often inherited, many families are simultaneously dealing with the condition across generations. New research led by UMD Clinical Psychology Professor Andrea Chronis-Tuscano and Professor Mark Stein from the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences finds a combination of medication and behavioral therapy for mothers may benefit both parent and child.
In research published in the , Chronis-Tuscano and Stein were the first to directly compare treatment approaches for families in which the mother had untreated ADHD and a young child also displayed ADHD symptoms. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, analyzed how the two most common ADHD treatments—medication and behavioral therapy—affected the mothers individually, as well as their parenting abilities and their children’s ADHD.
“It is so challenging for parents to provide the type of organization, structure and scaffolding their children with ADHD symptoms need when the parents are also struggling with the disorder personally,” said Chronis-Tuscano. “That’s why it is important to examine how these treatment options may best help parents and children dealing with ADHD on multiple levels.”
Ultimately, the researchers discovered medication improved mothers’ ADHD symptoms with limited effects on their parenting or child, whereas behavioral therapy improved parenting and child outcomes, with little impact on the mothers’ own ADHD.
“Our results suggest a combination of medication and behavioral parenting interventions may be the best way to help families where ADHD affects two generations,” Chronis-Tuscano said. “Currently, there is little focus on ADHD in parents so, pediatric, family medicine, and mental health providers need to keep an eye out for untreated ADHD symptoms in parents and consider treating the family as a whole using both behavioral and medication approaches.”
In order to build upon the results of this study, Chronis-Tuscano and Stein are currently collaborating with Dr. Christina Danko at UMD, Drs. Adelaide Robb and Donna Marschall at Children’s National Medical Center, and several primary care clinics in DC and Seattle where pediatricians are routinely screening for parent ADHD. Utilizing telehealth technology to improve access to care and alleviate concerns about COVID-19, eligible parents will be randomly assigned to behavioral parenting interventions with or without ADHD medication to treat their adult ADHD.
“We are excited to see what happens in our study targeting young children with ADHD symptoms to determine if we can intervene early and be more effective by providing parents with skills and/or treatment for their own ADHD,” Stein said.
This article was originally posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.