Methylphenidate and behavior modification in children with ADHD and comorbid ODD or CD: main and incremental effects across settings

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 May;38(5):578-86. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199905000-00020.


Objective: Although the combination of methylphenidate (MPH) and behavior modification (BMOD) has been advocated to enhance clinical outcome for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and comorbid disruptive disorders, few group studies have been conducted. This study evaluates the separate and incremental effects of these modalities on rating scale and observational measures in multiple settings.

Method: Sixteen of 22 children with ADHD and comorbid disruptive disorder completed a randomized, placebo-controlled study examining the separate and incremental effects of 2 doses of MPH and BMOD during a partial hospitalization program. Of the 6 who did not complete the study, 2 children developed significant side effects. For the 16 who did complete the study, effects were examined on measures of symptom ratings, behavioral frequencies, and stimulant side effects across program activities.

Results: Based on alpha-adjusted analyses of variance, there were several main effects of MPH and BMOD on ADHD symptoms, oppositional behavior, and positive social behavior, with certain effects unique to each intervention and setting. One incremental effect each was found for MPH (positive mood/behavior) and BMOD (negative behavior). MPH and BMOD were associated with few side effects. Effect sizes for each intervention showed considerable variability in clinical response.

Conclusions: That MPH and BMOD had certain unique main and incremental effects extends findings supporting their combination and suggests that integrated studies evaluate multiple dimensions of functioning and in novel settings (e.g., home, school). The incorporation of other intervention components in combined treatments may be warranted to enhance clinical efficacy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Behavior
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate