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A prospective study of stimulant response in preschool children: insights from ROC analyses.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA. EJS3@PO.CWRU.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of psychostimulant medication in a naturalistic sample of preschoolers. Benefits and side effects for methylphenidate and mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall) were examined.

METHOD:

Twenty-eight preschoolers (ages 4.0 - 5.9) participated in the present investigation. They were obtained consecutively from a large sample of suburban children assessed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. After having received various dosing levels of a stimulant in a placebo-controlled crossover design, best dose was assigned based on the lowest Abbreviated Symptoms Questionnaire T score received in a given week. All analyses compared best dose ratings to placebo ratings.

RESULTS:

Preschoolers' behavioral ratings by parents and teachers were improved as a function of stimulant medication. More than 82% of the medicated sample improved their behavioral rating by at least 1 SD as demonstrated by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses, with more than 50% of medicated preschoolers improving by more than 2 SD. Side effects were infrequent at best dose of medication.

CONCLUSIONS:

Clinically significant changes in behavioral ratings of preschoolers were noted in response to stimulant medication. Both stimulants were well tolerated. ROC curves were useful for clearly depicting on a case-by-case basis how much improvement was derived from psychopharmacological treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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