Remediating organizational functioning in children with ADHD: immediate and long-term effects from a randomized controlled trial

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2013 Feb;81(1):113-28. doi: 10.1037/a0029648. Epub 2012 Aug 13.


Objective: The study compared the efficacy of 2 behavioral interventions to ameliorate organization, time management, and planning (OTMP) difficulties in 3rd- to 5th-grade children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method: In a dual-site randomized controlled trial, 158 children were assigned to organizational skills training (OST; N = 64); PATHKO, a performance-based intervention that precluded skills training (N = 61); or a wait-list control (WL, N = 33). Treatments were 20 individual clinic-based sessions over 10-12 weeks. OST involved skills building provided primarily to the child. PATHKO trained parents and teachers to reinforce children contingently for meeting end-point target goals. Primary outcomes were the Children's Organizational Skills Scales (COSS-Parent, COSS-Teacher). Other relevant functional outcomes were assessed. Percentage of participants no longer meeting inclusion criteria for OTMP impairments informed on clinical significance. Assessments occurred at post-treatment, 1-month post-treatment, and twice in the following school year.

Results: OST was superior to WL on the COSS-P (Cohen's d = 2.77; p < .0001), COSS-T (d = 1.18; p < .0001), children's COSS self-ratings, academic performance and proficiency, homework, and family functioning. OST was significantly better than PATHKO only on the COSS-P (d = 0.63; p < .005). PATHKO was superior to WL on most outcomes but not on academic proficiency. Sixty percent of OST and PATHKO participants versus 3% of controls no longer met OTMP inclusion criteria. Significant maintenance effects were found for both treatments.

Conclusions: Two distinct treatments targeting OTMP problems in children with ADHD generated robust, sustained functional improvements. The interventions show promise of clinical utility in children with ADHD and organizational deficits.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Time
  • Time Management
  • Treatment Outcome