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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Sayal, K., Owen, V., White, K., Merrell, C., Tymms, P. & Taylor, E. (2010). Impact of Early School-Based Screening and Intervention Programs for ADHD on Children's Outcomes and Access to Services. Follow-up of a School-Based Trial at Age 10 Years. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 164(5): 462-469.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Objectives
To investigate the impact of early school-based screening and educational interventions on longer-term outcomes for children at risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the predictive utility of teacher ratings.

Design
A population-based 5-year follow-up of a randomized, school-based intervention.

Setting
Schools in England.

Participants
Children between 4 and 5 years of age with high teacher-rated hyperactivity/inattention scores. Follow-up data were collected on 487 children in 308 schools.

Interventions
Following screening, using a 2 x 2 factorial design, schools randomly received an educational intervention (books about ADHD for teachers), the names of children with high hyperactivity/inattention scores between ages 4 and 5 years (identification), both educational intervention and identification, or no intervention.

Outcome Measures
Parent-rated hyperactivity/inattention, impairment in classroom learning, and access to specialist health services for mental health or behavioral problems.

Results
None of the interventions were associated with improved outcomes. However, children receiving the identification-only intervention were twice as likely as children in the no-intervention group to have high hyperactivity/inattention scores at follow-up (adjusted odds ratio, 2.11; 95% confidence interval, 1.12-4.00). Regardless of intervention, high baseline hyperactivity/inattention scores were associated with high hyperactivity/inattention and specialist health service use at follow-up.

Conclusions
We did not find evidence of long-term, generalizable benefits following a school-based universal screening program for ADHD. There may be adverse effects associated with labeling children at a young age.

School of Education