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Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-.

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews.

Nonpharmacological interventions for ADHD: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of dietary and psychological treatments

Review published: 2013.

Bibliographic details: Sonuga-Barke EJ, Brandeis D, Cortese S, Daley D, Ferrin M, Holtmann M, Stevenson J, Danckaerts M, van der Oord S, Dopfner M, Dittmann RW, Simonoff E, Zuddas A, Banaschewski T, Buitelaar J, Coghill D, Hollis C, Konofal E, Lecendreux M, Wong IC, Sergeant J, European ADHD Guidelines Group.  Nonpharmacological interventions for ADHD: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of dietary and psychological treatments. American Journal of Psychiatry 2013; 170(3): 275-289. [PubMed: 23360949]

Quality assessment

Free fatty acid supplementation and artificial food colour exclusions appeared to have benefits for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); the evidence for behavioural interventions was limited. The authors? conclusions seem reliable, but their caveat that the benefits of artificial food colour exclusions could be limited to patients with food sensitivities was not derived from the evidence presented. Full critical summary

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Nonpharmacological treatments are available for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although their efficacy remains uncertain. The authors undertook meta-analyses of the efficacy of dietary (restricted elimination diets, artificial food color exclusions, and free fatty acid supplementation) and psychological (cognitive training, neurofeedback, and behavioral interventions) ADHD treatments.

METHOD: Using a common systematic search and a rigorous coding and data extraction strategy across domains, the authors searched electronic databases to identify published randomized controlled trials that involved individuals who were diagnosed with ADHD (or who met a validated cutoff on a recognized rating scale) and that included an ADHD outcome.

RESULTS: Fifty-four of the 2,904 nonduplicate screened records were included in the analyses. Two different analyses were performed. When the outcome measure was based on ADHD assessments by raters closest to the therapeutic setting, all dietary (standardized mean differences=0.21-0.48) and psychological (standardized mean differences=0.40-0.64) treatments produced statistically significant effects. However, when the best probably blinded assessment was employed, effects remained significant for free fatty acid supplementation (standardized mean difference=0.16) and artificial food color exclusion (standardized mean difference=0.42) but were substantially attenuated to nonsignificant levels for other treatments.

CONCLUSIONS: Free fatty acid supplementation produced small but significant reductions in ADHD symptoms even with probably blinded assessments, although the clinical significance of these effects remains to be determined. Artificial food color exclusion produced larger effects but often in individuals selected for food sensitivities. Better evidence for efficacy from blinded assessments is required for behavioral interventions, neurofeedback, cognitive training, and restricted elimination diets before they can be supported as treatments for core ADHD symptoms.

CRD has determined that this article meets the DARE scientific quality criteria for a systematic review.

Copyright © 2014 University of York.

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