Methodological Issues in the Assessment of Medication Effects in Children Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders in school-aged children and is usually treated with stimulant medications, including methylphenidate (MPH; Ritalin®, Ritalin-LA®, Concerta®, Metadate®, or Focalin®) and other drug compounds (e.g., Adderall®, Adderall-XR®, or Dexedrine). Assessment of school behavior and performance is a critical component in determining the safety and efficacy of these medications. This paper reviews methodological issues in assessing drug effects in school settings by considering features of the independent variable (the medication), the dependent variables (the endpoints selected for assessment), and the design (the structure of the assessment). In addition, we consider recent conceptual advances in understanding the behavioral mechanisms of action of drugs used to treat ADHD that may influence the structure and interpretation of medication assessments.

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