Send to

Choose Destination
J Atten Disord. 2015 Feb;19(2):99-117. doi: 10.1177/1087054712473835. Epub 2013 Feb 19.

Toward quality care in ADHD: defining the goals of treatment.

Author information

University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, USA
The REACH Institute, New York, NY, USA Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.
University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, USA.
The JB Ashtin Group Inc., Plymouth, MI, USA.
SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA.



Therapeutic goals for chronic mental disorders like major depressive disorder (MDD) and schizophrenia have evolved in parallel with the growing medical knowledge about the course and treatment of these disorders. Although the knowledge base regarding the clinical course of ADHD, a chronic psychiatric disorder, has evolved beyond symptomatic improvement and short-term treatment response, long-term goals, such as functional remission, have not yet been clearly defined.


A PubMed literature search was conducted to investigate the therapeutic goals of pharmacologic treatment referenced in the published literature from January 1998 through February 2010 using the following commonly used ADHD treatments as keywords: amphetamine, methylphenidate, atomoxetine, lisdexamfetamine, guanfacine, and clonidine. This search was then combined with an additional search that included the following outcome keywords: remission, relapse, remit, response, normal, normalization, recovery, and effectiveness.


Our search identified 102 publications. The majority (88.2% [90/102]) of these contained predefined criteria for treatment response. Predefined criteria for normalization and remission and/or relapse were presented in 4.9% (5/102), 12.7% (13/102), and 3.9% (4/102) of publications, respectively. There was a lack of consistency between the instruments used to measure outcomes as well as the criteria used to define treatment response, normalization, and remission as well as relapse.


The therapeutic goals in treating ADHD should address optimal treatment outcomes that go beyond modest reductions of ADHD symptoms to include syndromatic, symptomatic, and functional remission. Future work should focus on reliable and valid tools to measure these outcomes in the clinical trial setting.


ADHD; outcome measures; therapeutic goals; treatment terminology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center