Recent Submissions

  • Autonomic nervous system functioning in ADHD

    Groom, Madeleine J. (Springer International Publishing, 2023)
    In this chapter, we introduce the autonomic nervous system (ANS), discuss the mechanisms underlying arousal regulation in humans, and present theoretical frameworks suggesting that altered autonomic functioning is likely to contribute to behavioral, cognitive, and emotional difficulties experienced by people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The reviewed evidence in this chapter suggests that autonomic hypofunctioning and difficulties in regulating arousal according to situational demands may cause inattention, restlessness, reduced vigilance and cognitive difficulties (especially during monotonous and unrewarding activities), and emotional dysregulation and irritability in people with ADHD. Although the chapter is specifically focused on ADHD, we also provide the reader with an overview of the literature investigating autonomic dysfunction in psychiatric or psychological conditions that often co-occur with ADHD, including oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, mood disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. We discuss the effects of pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions for ADHD on autonomic functioning, and we propose that ADHD medication and some nonpharmacological interventions may be effective in reducing inattention and hyperactivity, and improving global functioning in people with ADHD, because they normalize activity of the ANS and improve arousal regulation. The concluding sections include a brief discussion about the possible implications of the findings presented in this chapter for clinical and research practice. Specifically, we stress the importance of clarifying, in future research, the role of altered autonomic functioning in ADHD, which could prove helpful for developing more efficient and valid assessment and intervention tools for people with this neurodevelopmental condition.
  • Use of healthcare services before diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A population-based matched case-control study

    Sayal, Kapil (2023)
    OBJECTIVE: To compare use of healthcare services and reasons for attendance by children and young people (CYP) with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) versus non-ADHD controls. DESIGN: Population-based matched case-control study. SETTING: English primary care electronic health records with linked hospital records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, 1998-2015. PARTICIPANTS: 8127 CYP with an ADHD diagnosis aged 4-17 years at the time of diagnosis and 40 136 non-ADHD controls matched by age, sex and general practitioner (GP) practice. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Medical diagnoses, prescriptions, hospital admissions and hospital procedures in the 2 years before diagnosis (or the index date for controls). RESULTS: CYP with ADHD attended healthcare services twice as often as controls (rate ratios: GP: 2.0, 95% CI=2.0, 2.1; hospital 1.8, 95% CI=1.8, 1.9). CYP with ADHD attended their GP, received prescriptions and were admitted to hospital for a wide range of reasons. The strongest association for GP attendances, comparing CYP with versus without ADHD, was for 'mental and behavioural disorders' (OR=25.2, 95% CI=23.3, 27.2). Common reasons for GP attendance included eye, ear, nose, throat, oral (OR=1.5, 95% CI=1.4, 1.5) and conditions such as asthma (OR=1.3, 95% CI=1.3, 1.4) or eczema (OR=1.2, 95% CI=1.0, 1.3). CONCLUSIONS: Two years before diagnosis, CYP with ADHD attended healthcare services twice as often as CYP without. CYP with ADHD had increased rates of physical conditions, such as asthma and eczema. These contacts may be an opportunity for earlier recognition and diagnosis of ADHD.
  • Remote Recruitment Strategy and Structured E-Parenting Support (STEPS) App: Feasibility and Usability Study

    French, Blandine; Glazebrook, Cris; Hall, Charlotte L.; Sayal, Kapil (2023)
    BACKGROUND: The Structured E-Parenting Support (STEPS) app provides support for parents of children with elevated hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and conduct problems who are awaiting clinical assessment. STEPS will be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) within the Online Parent Training for the Initial Management of ADHD Referrals (OPTIMA) research program in the United Kingdom. Phase 1 of the OPTIMA tested the feasibility of participants' recruitment and the app's usability. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to adapt a digital routine clinical monitoring system, myHealthE, for research purposes to facilitate waitlist recruitment; test using remote methods to screen and identify participants quickly and systematically; pilot the acceptability of the recruitment and assessment protocol; and explore the usability of STEPS. METHODS: myHealthE was adapted to screen patients' data. Parents' and clinicians' feedback on myHealthE was collected, and information governance reviews were conducted in clinical services planning to host the RCT. Potential participants for the observational feasibility study were identified from new referrals using myHealthE and non-myHealthE methods. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the demographic and outcome variables. We estimated whether the recruitment rate would meet the planned RCT sample size requirement (n=352). In addition to the feasibility study participants, another group of parents was recruited to assess the STEPS usability. They completed the adapted System Usability Scale and responded to open-ended questions about the app, which were coded using the Enlight quality construct template. RESULTS: Overall, 124 potential participants were identified as eligible: 121 (97.6%) via myHealthE and 3 (2.4%) via non-myHealthE methods. In total, 107 parents were contacted, and 48 (44.9%) consented and were asked if, hypothetically, they would be willing to participate in the OPTIMA RCT. Of the 28 feasibility study participants who provided demographic data, 21 (75%) identified as White. Their children had an average age of 8.4 (SD 1.7) years and 65% (31/48) were male. During the primary recruitment period (June to July 2021) when 45 participants had consented, 38 (84%) participants agreed hypothetically to take part in the RCT (rate of 19/mo, 95% CI 13.5-26.1), meeting the stop-go criterion of 18 participants per month to proceed with the RCT. All parents were satisfied or very satisfied with the study procedures. Parents (n=12) recruited to assess STEPS' usability described it as easy to navigate and use and as having an attractive combination of colors and visual design. They described the content as useful, pitched at the right level, and sensitively presented. Suggested improvements included adding captions to videos or making the recorded reflections editable. CONCLUSIONS: Remote recruitment and study procedures for testing a parenting intervention app are feasible and acceptable for parents. The parents felt that STEPS was a useful and easy-to-use digital parenting support tool. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.1186/s40814-021-00959-0.
  • Practitioner Review: Clinical utility of the QbTest for the assessment and diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder - a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Hall, Charlotte L.; Groom, Madeleine J.; Hollis, Chris P. (2023)
    BACKGROUND: Several computerised cognitive tests (e.g. continuous performance test) have been developed to support the clinical assessment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here, we appraised the evidence-base underpinning the use of one of these tests - the QbTest - in clinical practice, by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis investigating its accuracy and clinical utility. METHODS: Based on a preregistered protocol (CRD42022377671), we searched PubMed, Medline, Ovid Embase, APA PsycINFO and Web of Science on 15th August 2022, with no language/type of document restrictions. We included studies reporting accuracy measures (e.g. sensitivity, specificity, or Area under the Receiver Operating Characteristics Curve, AUC) for QbTest in discriminating between people with and without DSM/ICD ADHD diagnosis. Risk of bias was assessed with the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies tool (QUADAS-2). A generic inverse variance meta-analysis was conducted on AUC scores. Pooled sensitivity and specificity were calculated using a random-effects bivariate model in R. RESULTS: We included 15 studies (2,058 participants; 48.6% with ADHD). QbTest Total scores showed acceptable, rather than good, sensitivity (0.78 [95% confidence interval: 0.69; 0.85]) and specificity (0.70 [0.57; 0.81]), while subscales showed low-to-moderate sensitivity (ranging from 0.48 [0.35; 0.61] to 0.65 [0.52; 0.75]) and moderate-to-good specificity (from 0.65 [0.48; 0.78] to 0.83 [0.60; 0.94]). Pooled AUC scores suggested moderate-to-acceptable discriminative ability (Q-Total: 0.72 [0.57; 0.87]; Q-Activity: 0.67 [0.58; 0.77); Q-Inattention: 0.66 [0.59; 0.72]; Q-Impulsivity: 0.59 [0.53; 0.64]). CONCLUSIONS: When used on their own, QbTest scores available to clinicians are not sufficiently accurate in discriminating between ADHD and non-ADHD clinical cases. Therefore, the QbTest should not be used as stand-alone screening or diagnostic tool, or as a triage system for accepting individuals on the waiting-list for clinical services. However, when used as an adjunct to support a full clinical assessment, QbTest can produce efficiencies in the assessment pathway and reduce the time to diagnosis.
  • Barriers to and facilitators of using remote measurement technology in the long-term monitoring of individuals with ADHD: interview study

    Groom, Madeleine J.; Hollis, Chris P. (2023)
    BACKGROUND: Remote measurement technology (RMT) has the potential to address current research and clinical challenges of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and its co-occurring mental health problems. Despite research using RMT already being successfully applied to other populations, adherence and attrition are potential obstacles when applying RMT to a disorder such as ADHD. Hypothetical views and attitudes toward using RMT in a population with ADHD have previously been explored; however, to our knowledge, there is no previous research that has used qualitative methods to understand the barriers to and facilitators of using RMT in individuals with ADHD following participation in a remote monitoring period. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to evaluate the barriers to and facilitators of using RMT in individuals with ADHD compared with a group of people who did not have a diagnosis of ADHD. We also aimed to explore participants' views on using RMT for 1 or 2 years in future studies. METHODS: In total, 20 individuals with ADHD and 20 individuals without ADHD were followed up for 10 weeks using RMT that involved active (questionnaires and cognitive tasks) and passive (smartphone sensors and wearable devices) monitoring; 10 adolescents and adults with ADHD and 12 individuals in a comparison group completed semistructured qualitative interviews at the end of the study period. The interviews focused on potential barriers to and facilitators of using RMT in adults with ADHD. A framework methodology was used to explore the data qualitatively. RESULTS: Barriers to and facilitators of using RMT were categorized as health-related, user-related, and technology-related factors across both participant groups. When comparing themes that emerged across the participant groups, both individuals with and without ADHD experienced similar barriers and facilitators in using RMT. The participants agreed that RMT can provide useful objective data. However, slight differences between the participant groups were identified as barriers to RMT across all major themes. Individuals with ADHD described the impact that their ADHD symptoms had on participating (health-related theme), commented on the perceived cost of completing the cognitive tasks (user-related theme), and described more technical challenges (technology-related theme) than individuals without ADHD. Hypothetical views on future studies using RMT in individuals with ADHD for 1 or 2 years were positive. CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with ADHD agreed that RMT, which uses repeated measurements with ongoing active and passive monitoring, can provide useful objective data. Although themes overlapped with previous research on barriers to and facilitators of engagement with RMT (eg, depression and epilepsy) and with a comparison group, there are unique considerations for people with ADHD, for example, understanding the impact that ADHD symptoms may have on engaging with RMT. Researchers need to continue working with people with ADHD to develop future RMT studies for longer periods.
  • The impact of sleep difficulties in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on the family: A thematic analysis

    French, Blandine; Quain, Emily; Kilgariff, Joseph (2023)
    STUDY OBJECTIVES: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a complex but common neurodevelopmental condition characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity associated with a significant level of academic, social, and functional impairment. Problems around sleep frequently co-occur with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are thought to affect 50% to 80% of children and adults with the condition. Sleep issues typically include trouble falling asleep, bedtime resistance, night-time waking, and early rising. The impact of these problems on families and parents is profound but poorly researched. METHODS: Semistructured interviews took place with 12 mothers of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who struggle with sleep. Participants were asked about sleeping patterns and issues, methods used to improve sleep, the impact on parents' sleep and wider family life, and involvement with clinical services and support groups. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Three themes were identified in the data: a constant battleground; the cumulative effect of lack of sleep: impact on functioning and the wider family; a mixed bag of strategies: the tried, tested, and needed. Long-term sleep issues and challenging behavior at bedtime had substantial negative effects on families. Parents experiencing sleep deprivation experienced functional impairments to daily life and well-being and strain on relationships with children and spouses. CONCLUSIONS: Findings revealed parents were consistently and profoundly impacted by their children's sleep problems. Parents sought strategies and support in many different ways but were often unsuccessful. CITATION: French B, Quain E, Kilgariff J, Lockwood J, Daley D. The impact of sleep difficulties in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on the family: a thematic analysis. J Clin Sleep Med. 2023;19(10):1735-1741.
  • Relationship between autonomic arousal and attention orienting in children and adolescents with ADHD, autism and co-occurring ADHD and autism

    Arora, Iti; Kochhar, Puja; Hollis, Chris P.; Groom, Madeleine J. (2023)
    INTRODUCTION: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be characterized by different profiles of visual attention orienting. However, there are also many inconsistent findings emerging from the literature, probably due to the fact that the potential effect of autonomic arousal (which has been proposed to be dysregulated in these conditions) on oculomotor performance has not been investigated before. Moreover, it is not known how visual attention orienting is affected by the co-occurrence of ADHD and autism in people with a double diagnosis. METHODS: 99 children/adolescents with or without ADHD and/or autism (age 10.79 ± 2.05 years, 65% boys) completed an adapted version of the gap-overlap task (with baseline and overlap trials only). The social salience and modality of stimuli were manipulated between trials. Eye movements and pupil size were recorded. We compared saccadic reaction times (SRTs) between diagnostic groups and investigated if a trial-by-trial association existed between pre-saccadic pupil size and SRTs. RESULTS: Faster orienting (shorter SRT) was found for baseline compared to overlap trials, faces compared to non-face stimuli and-more evidently in children without ADHD and/or autism-for multi-modal compared to uni-modal stimuli. We also found a linear negative association between pre-saccadic pupil size and SRTs, in autistic participants (without ADHD), and a quadratic association in children with ADHD (without autism), for which SRTs were slower when intra-individual pre-saccadic pupil size was smallest or largest. CONCLUSION: Our findings are in line with previous literature and indicate a possible effect of dysregulated autonomic arousal on oculomotor mechanisms in autism and ADHD, which should be further investigated in future research studies with larger samples, to reliably investigate possible differences between children with single and dual diagnoses.
  • Computerized cognitive training in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (adhd): A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials with blinded and objective outcomes

    Cortese, Samuele; Hollis, Chris P. (2023)
    This meta-analysis investigated the effects of computerized cognitive training (CCT) on clinical, neuropsychological and academic outcomes in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The authors searched PubMed, Ovid, and Web of Science until 19th January 2022 for parallel-arm randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using CCT in individuals with ADHD. Random-effects meta-analyses pooled standardized mean differences (SMD) between CCT and comparator arms. RCT quality was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2.0 tool (PROSPERO: CRD42021229279). Thirty-six RCTs were meta-analysed, 17 of which evaluated working memory training (WMT). Analysis of outcomes measured immediately post-treatment and judged to be “probably blinded” (PBLIND; trial n = 14) showed no effect on ADHD total (SMD = 0.12, 95%CI[−0.01 to −0.25]) or hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms (SMD = 0.12, 95%[−0.03 to−0.28]). These findings remained when analyses were restricted to trials (n: 5–13) with children/adolescents, low medication exposure, semi-active controls, or WMT or multiple process training. There was a small improvement in inattention symptoms (SMD = 0.17, 95%CI[0.02–0.31]), which remained when trials were restricted to semi-active controls (SMD = 0.20, 95%CI[0.04–0.37]), and doubled in size when assessed in the intervention delivery setting (n = 5, SMD = 0.40, 95%CI[0.09–0.71]), suggesting a setting-specific effect. CCT improved WM (verbal: n = 15, SMD = 0.38, 95%CI[0.24–0.53]; visual-spatial: n = 9, SMD = 0.49, 95%CI[0.31–0.67]), but not other neuropsychological (e.g., attention, inhibition) or academic outcomes (e.g., reading, arithmetic; analysed n: 5–15). Longer-term improvement (at ~6-months) in verbal WM, reading comprehension, and ratings of executive functions were observed but relevant trials were limited in number (n: 5–7). There was no evidence that multi-process training was superior to working memory training. In sum, CCT led to shorter-term improvements in WM, with some evidence that verbal WM effects persisted in the longer-term. Clinical effects were limited to small, setting specific, short-term effects on inattention symptoms. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved) (Source: journal abstract)
  • Remote assessment of adhd in children and adolescents: Recommendations from the european adhd guidelines group following the clinical experience during the covid-19 pandemic

    Hollis, Chris P. (2023)
    The COVID-19 pandemic led ADHD services to modify the clinical practice to reduce in-person contact as much as possible to minimise viral spread. This had far-reaching effects on day-to-day clinical practice as remote assessments were widely adopted. Despite the attenuation of the acute threat from COVID, many clinical services are retaining some remote practices. The lack of clear evidence-based guidance about the most appropriate way to conduct remote assessments meant that these changes were typically implemented in a localised, ad hoc, and un-coordinated way. Here, the European ADHD Guidelines Group (EAGG) discusses the strengths and weaknesses of remote assessment methods of children and adolescents with ADHD in a narrative review based on available data and expert opinions to highlight key recommendations for future studies and clinical practice. We conclude that going forward, despite remote working in clinical services functioning adequately during the pandemic, all required components of ADHD assessment should still be completed following national/international guidelines; however, the process may need adaptation. Social restrictions, including changes in education provision, can either mask or exacerbate features associated with ADHD and therefore assessment should carefully chart symptom profile and impairment prior to, as well as during an ongoing pandemic. While remote assessments are valuable in allowing clinical services to continue despite restrictions and may have benefits for routine care in the post-pandemic world, particular attention must be paid to those who may be at high risk but not be able to use/access remote technologies and prioritize these groups for conventional face-to-face assessments. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved) (Source: journal abstract)
  • Long-term safety of methylphenidate in children and adolescents with ADHD: 2-year outcomes of the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Drugs Use Chronic Effects (ADDUCE) study

    Hollis, Chris P. (2023)
    BACKGROUND: Methylphenidate is the most frequently prescribed medication for the treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents in many countries. Although many randomised controlled trials support short-term efficacy, tolerability, and safety, data on long-term safety and tolerability are scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the safety of methylphenidate over a 2-year period in relation to growth and development, psychiatric health, neurological health, and cardiovascular function in children and adolescents. METHODS: We conducted a naturalistic, longitudinal, controlled study as part of the ADDUCE research programme in 27 European child and adolescent mental health centres in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Hungary. Participants aged 6-17 years were recruited into three cohorts: medication-naive ADHD patients who intended to start methylphenidate treatment (methylphenidate group), medication-naive ADHD patients who did not intend to start any ADHD medication (no-methylphenidate group), and a control group without ADHD. Children with ADHD diagnosed by a qualified clinician according to the DSM-IV criteria and, in the control group, children who scored less than 1·5 on average on the Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham IV rating scale for ADHD items, and whose hyperactivity score on the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was within the normal range (<6) were eligible for inclusion. Participants were excluded if they had previously taken any ADHD medications but remained eligible if they had previously taken or were currently taking other psychotropic drugs. The primary outcome was height velocity (height velocity SD score; estimated from at least two consecutive height measurements, and normalised with reference to the mean and SD of a population of the same age and sex). FINDINGS: Between Feb 01, 2012, and Jan 31, 2016, 1410 participants were enrolled (756 in methylphenidate group, 391 in no-methylphenidate group, and 263 in control group). 1070 (76·3%) participants were male, 332 (23·7%) were female, and for eight gender was unknown. The average age for the cohort was 9·28 years (SD 2·78; IQR 7-11). 1312 (93·0%) of 1410 participants were White. The methylphenidate and no-methylphenidate groups differed in ADHD symptom severity and other characteristics. After controlling for the effects of these variables using propensity scores, there was little evidence of an effect on growth (24 months height velocity SD score difference -0·07 (95% CI -0·18 to 0·04; p=0·20) or increased risk of psychiatric or neurological adverse events in the methylphenidate group compared with the no-methylphenidate group. Pulse rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were higher in the methylphenidate group compared with the no-methylphenidate group after 24 months of treatment. No serious adverse events were reported during the study. INTERPRETATION: Our results suggest that long-term treatment with methylphenidate for 2 years is safe. There was no evidence to support the hypothesis that methylphenidate treatment leads to reductions in growth. Methylphenidate-related pulse and blood pressure changes, although relatively small, require regular monitoring. FUNDING: EU Seventh Framework Programme.
  • Understanding the impact of home confinement on children and young people with ADHD and ASD during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Hall, Charlotte L.; Valentine, Althea Z.; Sayal, Kapil (2023)
    To understand whether the mental health of children and young people (CYP) with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were differentially affected by COVID-19. We analysed data (n = 6507) from the Co-Space study, a UK web-based longitudinal survey. CYP with ADHD (n = 160;2.5%), ASD (n = 465;7%), and ADHD + ASD (n = 155;2.4%) were compared with a reference group (n = 5727;88%) using parent-completed questionnaires [Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) & Pandemic Anxiety Scale (PAS)]. Baseline to 1-month follow-up differences were compared using linear regression models. CYP with ADHD and/or ASD had higher scores at baseline than other CYP. At follow-up, CYP with ASD showed small but significant improvements in symptoms (SDQ), compared with the reference group. CYP with ASD experienced a worsening of disease anxiety (PAS) and CYP with ADHD a deterioration in functional impairment. These findings indicate a mixed pattern of pandemic-related impact for CYP with ADHD and/or ASD.
  • Online parent training for the initial management of ADHD referrals (OPTIMA): the protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a digital parenting intervention implemented to support parents and children on a treatment waitlist

    French, Blandine; Glazebrook, Cris; Hall, Charlotte L.; Sayal, Kapil (2022)
    BACKGROUND: Children referred for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often present with a broader pattern of conduct problems including oppositionality and defiance. This combination can be extremely stressful to parents, lower parents' self-esteem and negatively impact family life. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that families receive support as soon as possible after their referral. However, as clinical services are overstretched, and traditional in-person parenting intervention programmes are expensive, families often must wait times a long time prior to receiving this vital input. To address this, we have created a digital parenting programme called STEPS. It is delivered as a mobile phone app providing a set of tools and resources that can be easily accessed at parents' convenience. This study aims to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of STEPS in supporting parents of children with high levels of hyperactivity/impulsivity, inattention and conduct problems, who are waiting to be assessed by specialist children's clinical services. METHODS: Online Parent Training for The Initial Management of ADHD referrals (OPTIMA) is a two-arm superiority parallel randomised controlled trial with an internal pilot study. We aim to recruit 352 parents and their children, who have been accepted onto a waitlist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services or similar child health services. Parents who consent will be randomised 1:1 to either the STEPS or wait-as-usual (WAU) group. The trial will be conducted remotely (online and telephone) with measures taken at baseline and 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post-randomisation. The primary objective is to evaluate whether STEPS reduces the severity of children's oppositional and defiant behaviour, as rated by parents, measured at 3 months post-randomisation compared to WAU. DISCUSSION: Digital solutions, such as mobile phone apps, have potential for delivering psychological support for parents of children with clinical-level needs in a timely and inexpensive manner. This trial will provide data on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the STEPS app, which could support the implementation of this scalable parenting intervention programme into standard clinical care and, ultimately, improve the outcomes for families of children referred to specialist child and adolescent health services.
  • Using an objective computer task (QbTest) to aid the identification of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the Children and Young People Secure Estate (CYPSE): a feasibility randomised controlled trial

    Hall, Charlotte L. (2022)
    OBJECTIVES: QbTest has been shown to improve time to decision/diagnosis for young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The aim was to assess the feasibility of QbTest for young people in prison. DESIGN: Single-centre feasibility randomised controlled trial (RCT), with 1:1 allocation. Concealed random allocation using an online pseudorandom list with random permuted blocks of varying sizes. SETTING: One Young Offenders Institution in England. PARTICIPANTS: 355 young people aged 15-18 years displaying possible symptoms of ADHD were assessed for eligibility, 69 were eligible to take part and 60 were randomised. INTERVENTION: QbTest-a computer task measuring attention, activity and impulsivity. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Eligibility, recruitment and retention rates and acceptability of randomisation and trial participation. RESULTS: Of the 355 young people assessed for eligibility, 69 were eligible and 60 were randomised (n=30 QbTest plus usual care; n=30 usual care alone). The study achieved the specified recruitment target. Trial participation and randomisation were deemed acceptable by the majority of participants. 78% of young people were followed up at 3 months, but only 32% at 6 months, although this was also affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Secondary outcomes were mixed. Participants including clinical staff were mostly supportive of the study and QbTest; however, some young people found QbTest hard and there were issues with implementation of the ADHD care pathway. There were no serious adverse events secondary to the study or intervention and no one was withdrawn from the study due to an adverse event. CONCLUSIONS: With adaptations, a fully powered RCT may be achievable to evaluate the effectiveness of QbTest in the assessment of ADHD in the Children and Young People Secure Estate, with time to decision (days) as the primary outcome measure. However, further programme developmental work is required to address some of the challenges highlighted prior to a larger trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN17402196.
  • The effects of stimulant and non-stimulant medications on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) functioning in people with ADHD: A systematic review and meta-analysis

    Idrees, Iman; Cortese, Samuele; Groom, Madeleine J. (2022)
    We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the effects of stimulant and non-stimulant medications on autonomic functioning in people with ADHD (PROSPERO: CRD42020212439). We searched (9th August 2021) PsycInfo, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science and The Cochrane Library, for randomised and non-randomised studies reporting indices of autonomic activity, (electrodermal, pupillometry and cardiac), pre- and post-medication exposure in people meeting DSM/ICD criteria for ADHD. In the narrative syntheses, we included 5 electrodermal studies, 1 pupillometry study and 57 studies investigating heart rate and blood pressure. In the meta-analyses, 29 studies were included on blood pressure and 32 on heart rate. Administration of stimulants, and to a lesser degree, non-stimulants increased heart rate and blood pressure in people with ADHD. Similarly, an upregulation of arousal, reflected in increased electrodermal activity and pupil diameter was observed following stimulant use. Yet, the methodological diversity of studies presented in this review reinforces the need for more standardised and rigorous research to fully understand the relationship between arousal, medication, and behaviour in ADHD.
  • Acute effects of physical activity on cognitive function in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis

    Groom, Madeleine J. (2022)
    Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children and adolescents, is typically managed with medications which are associated with negative side effects. Therefore, non-pharmacological treatments, such as physical activity, are an attractive option. The aim of this meta-analysis was to explore the effects of acute physical activity on cognition in children and adolescents with ADHD. A comprehensive search of three literature databases yielded 14 studies for inclusion. An overall meta-analysis was conducted alongside sub-group analyses for cognitive domain, physical activity characteristics, and timing of cognitive measurements. Results revealed a small beneficial effect of physical activity on cognitive function (SMD = 0.18, [0.12,0.25], p < 0.01). Sub-group analyses revealed beneficial effects of physical activity on the domains of cognitive flexibility (SMD = 0.21, [0.09,0.32], p < 0.01), attention (SMD = 0.20, [0.09,0.32], p = 0.001), and inhibitory control (SMD = 0.18, [0.03,0.33], p = 0.02), but not memory (p = 0.87). Cognitive benefits also differed depending on physical activity duration (<10 min, p = 0.27; 11–20 min, SMD = 0.23, [0.14,0.31], p < 0.01; >20 min, SMD = 0.13, [-0.00,0.26], p = 0.05), and modality (running, SMD = 0.21, [0.12,0.29], p < 0.01; ‘other’, SMD = 0.39, [0.18,0.61], p < 0.01; cycling, p = 0.35), and the timing of cognitive measurement following physical activity (immediately, SMD = 0.17, [-0.01,0.35], p = 0.06; 2–10 min, SMD = 0.21, [0.12,0.30], p < 0.01; >10 min, SMD = 0.19, [-0.09,0.47], p = 0.19). Overall, physical activity has a positive acute effect on subsequent cognition in children and adolescents with ADHD, though effects may be domain specific and influenced by the duration and modality of physical activity. These findings have practical implications for those interested in using physical activity to enhance cognition in children and adolescents with ADHD.
  • Functional somatic symptoms in preschool attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a secondary analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial of parent training

    Daley, David (2022)
    Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be more stress-vulnerable, and thereby, it has been suggested, prone to develop functional somatic symptoms (FSS) compared to their peers. In this paper, using data from 160 children aged 3-7 years with ADHD from the D'SNAPP study, a randomized controlled trial testing a parent training intervention, we addressed a number of questions about the role of FSS in ADHD. First, are FSS levels higher in an ADHD sample than in the children of the general population. Second, do FSS levels predict psychopathology and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in ADHD samples. Third, does FSS levels moderate the effect of parent training on ADHD symptoms. We found that preschoolers with ADHD experienced more severe FSS than a general population-based sample (18.80% vs. 2.11%). Severe FSS were associated with increased psychopathology and impaired daily function and lower HRQoL. Level of baseline FSS did not moderate the effect of parent training on ADHD. FSS in preschool children with ADHD is associated with impaired daily functioning, but further research is warranted to determine the clinical impact of FSS in children with ADHD.
  • Current pharmacological treatments for ADHD

    Groom, Madeleine J.; Cortese, Samuele (2022)
    Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental condition associated with impaired function and increased risk of poor outcomes in children, young people and adults with the condition. Currently approved pharmacological treatments for ADHD include a range of stimulant (methylphenidate, amphetamine) and nonstimulant (atomoxetine, guanfacine, clonidine) medications. All have been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD and improving other functional outcomes including quality of life, academic performance, rates of accidents and injuries, and do not appear to be associated with significant adverse outcomes or side effects. In this chapter, we review medications for ADHD by summarising the mechanisms of action of each of the two main classes of compounds (stimulants and nonstimulants), the formulations of the most commonly prescribed medications within each class, their efficacy in treating ADHD symptoms and other outcomes, and other factors that influence treatment decisions including side effects and tolerability, comorbidities and medical history. We conclude with a summary of the treatment decisions made by clinicians and suggest some next steps for research. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms of action of these medications and how exactly they improve symptoms, and to examine their effects on commonly occurring comorbidities.
  • The feasibility of a strategy for the remote recruitment, consenting and assessment of recent referrals: a protocol for phase 1 of the On-Line Parent Training for the Initial Management of ADHD referrals (OPTIMA)

    Daley, David; French, Blandine; Glazebrook, Cris; Groom, Madeleine J.; Hall, Charlotte L.; Sayal, Kapil (2022)
    BACKGROUND: In the UK, children with high levels of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention referred to clinical services with possible attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often wait a long time for specialist diagnostic assessment. Parent training (PT) has the potential to support parents during this difficult period, especially regarding the management of challenging and disruptive behaviours that often accompany ADHD. However, traditional face-to-face PT is costly and difficult to organise in a timely way. We have created a low-cost, easily accessible PT programme delivered via a phone app, Structured E-Parenting Support (STEPS), to address this problem. The overall OPTIMA programme will evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of STEPS as a way of helping parents manage their children behaviour while on the waitlist. To ensure the timely and efficient evaluation of STEPS in OPTIMA, we have worked with children's health services to implement a remote strategy for recruitment, screening and assessment of recently referred families. Part of this strategy is incorporated into routine clinical practice and part is OPTIMA specific. Here, we present the protocol for Phase 1 of OPTIMA-a study of the feasibility of this remote strategy, as a basis for a large-scale STEPS randomised controlled trial (RCT). METHODS: This is a single arm observational feasibility study. Participants will be parents of up to 100 children aged 5-11 years with high levels of hyperactivity/impulsivity, inattention and challenging behaviour who are waiting for assessment in one of five UK child and adolescent mental health or behavioural services. Recruitment, consenting and data collection will occur remotely. The primary outcome will be the rate at which the families, who meet inclusion criteria, agree in principle to take part in a full STEPS RCT. Secondary outcomes include acceptability of remote consenting and online data collection procedures; the feasibility of collecting teacher data remotely within the required timeframe, and technical difficulties with completing online questionnaires. All parents in the study will receive access to STEPS. DISCUSSION: Establishing the feasibility of our remote recruitment, consenting and assessment strategy is a pre-requisite for the full trial of OPTIMA. It can also provide a model for future trials conducted remotely.
  • The management of ADHD in children and adolescents: Bringing evidence to the clinic: Perspective from the European ADHD Guidelines Group (EAGG)

    Daley, David; Hollis, Chris P. (2021)
    ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder presenting to child and adolescent mental health, paediatric, and primary care services. Timely and effective interventions to address core ADHD symptoms and co-occurring problems are a high priority for healthcare and society more widely. While much research has reported on the benefits and adverse effects of different interventions for ADHD, these individual research reports and the reviews, meta-analyses and guidelines summarizing their findings are sometimes inconsistent and difficult to interpret. We have summarized the current evidence and identified several methodological issues and gaps in the current evidence that we believe are important for clinicians to consider when evaluating the evidence and making treatment decisions. These include understanding potential impact of bias such as inadequate blinding and selection bias on study outcomes; the relative lack of high-quality data comparing different treatments and assessing long-term effectiveness, adverse effects and safety for both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments; and the problems associated with observational studies, including those based on large national registries and comparing treatments with each other. We highlight key similarities across current international clinical guidelines and discuss the reasons for divergence where these occur. We discuss the integration of these different perspective into a framework for person/family-centered evidence-based practice approach to care that aims to achieve optimal outcomes that prioritize individual strengths and impairments, as well as the personal treatment targets of children and their families. Finally, we consider how access to care for this common and impairing disorder can be improved in different healthcare systems. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) (Source: journal abstract)
  • Heart rate variability in children and adolescents with autism, ADHD and co-occurring autism and ADHD, during passive and active experimental conditions

    Bellato, Alessio; Arora, Iti; Kochhar, Puja; Hollis, Chris P.; Groom, Madeleine J. (2021)
    Despite overlaps in clinical symptomatology, autism and ADHD may be associated with opposite autonomic arousal profiles which might partly explain altered cognitive and global functioning. We investigated autonomic arousal in 106 children/adolescents with autism, ADHD, co-occurring autism/ADHD, and neurotypical controls. Heart rate variability was recorded during resting-state, a 'passive' auditory oddball task and an 'active' response conflict task. Autistic children showed hyper-arousal during the active task, while those with ADHD showed hypo-arousal during resting-state and the passive task. Irrespective of diagnosis, children characterised by hyper-arousal showed more severe autistic symptomatology, increased anxiety and reduced global functioning than those displaying hypo-arousal, suggesting the importance of considering individual autonomic arousal profiles for differential diagnosis of autism/ADHD and when developing personalised interventions.

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