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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 20. doi: 10.1007/s00787-018-1106-3. [Epub ahead of print]

Does methylphenidate improve academic performance? A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

1
Clinical Neuropsychology section, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. A.F.Kortekaas-Rijlaarsdam@vu.nl.
2
Clinical Neuropsychology section, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, England, UK.

Abstract

Academic improvement is amongst the most common treatment targets when prescribing stimulants to children with ADHD. Previous reviews on stimulant-related academic improvements are inconclusive and focus on task engagement. Recent literature suggests outcome-domain-specific medication effects that are larger for productivity than for accuracy. The aims of this study are quantifying methylphenidate effects on academic productivity and accuracy for math, reading, spelling; exploring the mediating or moderating effects of symptom improvements, demographic-, design- and disorder-related variables. PubMed, EMBASE, ERIC and PsycINFO were searched for articles reporting methylphenidate effects on academic productivity and accuracy. Thirty-four studies met entry criteria. Methylphenidate improved math productivity (7.8% increase, p < .001); math accuracy (3.0% increase, p = .001); increased reading speed (SMD .47, p < .001) but not reading accuracy. None of the mediators or moderators tested affected methylphenidate efficacy. Academic improvements were small compared to symptom improvements; qualitative changes limited to math. Clinicians should take this discrepancy into account when prescribing medication for ADHD.

KEYWORDS:

ADHD; Academic; Math; Meta-analysis; Methylphenidate; Reading

PMID:
29353323
DOI:
10.1007/s00787-018-1106-3

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