The Western Australian Raine ADHD study made international headlines with its conclusion that stimulant medications for treatment of ADHD such as Ritalin and dex-amphetamine failed to offer any significant long-term academic, social or emotional benefits and had no significant effect on depression, self-perception or social functioning for those at age 14.

This research study was a collaboration between the Ministerial Implementation Committee for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Western Australia (MICADHD) and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHR), with funding provided by the Western Australian Department of Health (DOH).

Background (report excerpt)

The short term-benefits of methylphenidate and dexamphetamine in the management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms are well described throughout the literature. Similarly, the short-term side-effects of these stimulant medications are well-documented. However, the long-term benefits and side-effects have been less well studied.

This project uses longitudinal data collected as part of the Western Australian Pregnancy Birth Cohort to examine the long-term social, emotional, school-based, growth, and cardiovascular outcomes associated with the use of stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD. These outcomes are measured at the age of 14-years.

1.2 Summary of results

ADHD Diagnosis and Outcomes

  • Children with a diagnosis of ADHD as reported by parents (regardless of medication use), perform significantly worse at age 14 years on measures of depression, self perception, social functioning, academic performance, school enjoyment and attention than those without a diagnosis.
  • This is consistent with previous research and suggests that children diagnosed with ADHD have an underlying condition that impacts negatively on a range of long-term life skills.

Read the full report: Raine ADHD Study: Long-term outcomes associated with stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD in children (Government of Western Australia), 2010 here

Listen to Kerryn Phelps interview on the report, 7 minutes

RN Breakfast Wednesday 24 February 2010 6:36AM