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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Christine Merrell

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


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.

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

Schools in England.

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.

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.

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.

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.