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What are the differences between the PATS and MTA studies for ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

PATS study for ADHD
The Preschool Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Treatment Study (PATS) looked at the efficacy of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication treatment for preschool children. Since the Food and Drug Administration had not approved stimulant medications for use in preschoolers with ADHD, researchers wanted to find out if the medications were safe and effective for doctors to prescribe to young children.

At the beginning of the study, preschoolers were started on a non-medication behavioral treatment regimen. This treatment lasted for 10 weeks. If a child still had severe ADHD symptoms after the 10-week trial period, they were prescribed a low dose of ADHD stimulant medication. Then, the children were followed over time to see whether the medication helped their ADHD symptoms. The researchers found that stimulant medications did reduce ADHD symptoms in preschoolers, although side effects caused significant problems at times. Some of the children in the medication group experienced significant side effects and had to discontinue the study.

MTA study for ADHD
The Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) analyzed the efficacy of different treatments for children with ADHD. The MTA study compared children receiving intensive medication and behavioral treatments to children receiving less intensive treatments. Almost 600 children between the ages of 7 and 9 were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups:

  • Intensive medication therapy
  • Intensive behavioral therapy
  • Both intensive medication and intensive behavioral therapy
  • Routine standard of care (this was the control group)

The treatments were given for about 14 months, and then the children's experiences were analyzed. Those who received both medication and behavioral therapy during the study experienced the most positive benefits.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.