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.