Pilot randomized controlled trial of dialectical behavior therapy group skills training for ADHD among college students

J Atten Disord. 2015 Mar;19(3):260-71. doi: 10.1177/1087054714535951. Epub 2014 May 29.


Objective: ADHD affects between 2% and 8% of college students and is associated with broad functional impairment. No prior randomized controlled trials with this population have been published. The present study is a pilot randomized controlled trial evaluating dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) group skills training adapted for college students with ADHD.

Method: Thirty-three undergraduates with ADHD between ages 18 and 24 were randomized to receive either DBT group skills training or skills handouts during an 8-week intervention phase. ADHD symptoms, executive functioning (EF), and related outcomes were assessed at baseline, post-treatment, and 3-month follow-up.

Results: Participants receiving DBT group skills training showed greater treatment response rates (59-65% vs. 19-25%) and clinical recovery rates (53-59% vs. 6-13%) on ADHD symptoms and EF, and greater improvements in quality of life.

Conclusion: DBT group skills training may be efficacious, acceptable, and feasible for treating ADHD among college students. A larger randomized trial is needed for further evaluation.

Keywords: adult ADHD treatment; college students; dialectical behavior therapy; executive functioning; mindfulness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Executive Function
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Adjustment
  • Students / psychology*
  • Young Adult