In fact, when the two are combined, the study showed, the amount of medication required to achieve the same results as use of medication alone can be reduced by two-thirds.
"One of the major findings of the study is that when using behavior modification, you can get away with tiny, tiny doses of medication, much lower than previously thought," said ADHD researcher William E. Pelham, Jr., University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology, UB College of Arts and Sciences and UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The study is the first to test the effectiveness of a new drug treatment, a methylphenidate (MPH) patch. Methylphenidate is the stimulant used in pill form by ADHD drugs Concerta and Ritalin.
The study is published in the May issue of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. It was funded by a grant from Noven Pharmaceuticals. Shire Pharmaceuticals Group, which purchased the rights to the MPH patch from Noven, will seek FDA approval for the MPH patch in 2006.
Twenty-seven children with ADHD, ages 6 to 12, participated in the study, conducted at the University at Buffalo's Summer Treatment Program for children with ADHD. Pelham and co-researchers assessed the effects of behavior modification, the MPH patch and a placebo on the children in classroom and organized play settings, and through use of parental behavior ratings.
The researchers found that when used alone, the MPH patch and behavior modification therapy were equally effective treatments. The MPH patch was effective in all doses tested, with few reports of side effects and good wear characteristics.