Pilot Study on Trainings for Parents of Children with ADHD Behaviours

Leckey, Y., McGilloway, S., Hickey, G., Bracken-Scally, M., Kelly, P., & Furlong, M. (2018). A randomised control trial of parent and child training programmes (versus wait list control) for children with ADHD-type behaviours: A pilot study. Child Care in Practice, 419-438.
DOI: 10.1080/13575279.2018.1481368


This pilot study involved a randomised control trial to investigate the short-term effectiveness of the Incredible Years (IY) Basic Parent Training (PT) and a combination
of the PT and IY child-focused Small Group Dinosaur Programme (PT + CT), when compared to a wait list control (WLC) group. We hypothesised that both PT alone and PT + CT would lead to reductions in hyperactive, impulsive behaviour and parental distress when compared to the WLC group and that the PT + CT group would be superior to the PT alone. We were also interested in the experiences of parents who attended the PT + CT group, to explore their perceptions of the parent and child programmes and whether any benefits were evident in dealing with their child’s core ADHD behaviours, particularly as the combined treatment is considered optimal for managing child behavioural problems (Webster-Stratton et al., 2011). Therefore, a small qualitative study was also undertaken with a sample of parents and facilitators to identify benefits and/or challenges associated with the content and delivery of the combined (PT + CT) programme.

Objective: A randomised control trial was conducted to assess whether the combined Incredible Years parent training and child training programmes (PT + CT) led to improvements in ADHD-type behaviours in children, when compared to a PT-only group and a Wait List Control (WLC) group.
Method: Forty-five families with a child aged 3–7 years who displayed ADHD-type behaviours were referred for treatment and randomised to a combined treatment group (PT + CT; n = 12), a PT group (n = 19) or a WLC group (n = 14). Programmes were delivered by community-based organisations. Short-term follow-up (six months) assessments were undertaken with parents and children based on parent reports of child behaviour and parent well-being and behaviour. A qualitative sub-study was also conducted with parent participants (n = 8) and programme facilitators (n = 5) to explore experiences and views of the combined programme.
Results: Statistically significant differenceswere found between the PT group and the WLC group with regard to child hyperactivity (p < 0.001) and pro-social skills (p < 0.05). No significant differences were found between the combined group (PT + CT) and the PT group except for child hyperactivity (p < 0.05), which was significantly lower in the PT only group. Significant effects were found for PT + CT versus WLC on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Impact subscale only.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that the combined treatment (PT + CT) produced little added benefit for child hyperactive/ inattentive behaviour post-intervention despite the very positive views expressed by parents in the qualitative interviews. The PT training alone was more effective in tackling some core ADHD behaviours when compared to the WLC group, but a need for further large-scale research is indicated.

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