Does maternal ADHD reduce the effectiveness of parent training for preschool children's ADHD?

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 Jun;41(6):696-702. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200206000-00009.


Objective: To assess the impact of maternal attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms on the effectiveness of a parent training (PT) program for preschool ADHD.

Method: Eighty-three 3-year-old children with ADHD and their mothers selected from two community cohorts living in Hampshire, England (1992-93 and 1995-96, respectively), completed an 8-week PT program. ADHD symptoms and a number of other parent and child factors, including adult ADHD symptoms, were measured prior to the start of treatment (week 1: T1), immediately after treatment (week 8: T2), and at 15 weeks follow-up (week 23: T3).

Results: Mothers were divided into three groups on the basis of their scores (T1) on the Adult AD/HD Rating Scale (high, medium, low). Children of mothers in the high-ADHD group displayed no improvement after PT, whereas the levels of ADHD symptoms of the children of mothers in either the medium or low ADHD groups reduced substantially (F(4,60) = 3.13, p < .05). This association persisted after other child and maternal factors were controlled for in multiple regression analyses (beta > .30, p < .05).

Conclusions: High levels of maternal ADHD symptoms limit the improvement shown by children with ADHD after a program of PT. This effect was unrelated to other aspects of maternal mental health and child functioning. The treatment of parental ADHD may be a prerequisite for the success of psychosocial interventions for childhood ADHD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / education
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome