Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show improvements in behavior when their families are assisted by care managers who have extra training to encourage mental health interventions, a new study co-authored by School of Public Health researchers shows.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that among urban children with ADHD, using lay care managers to address “barriers to engagement with care” has the potential to improve children’s outcomes. Care managers in one arm of the study received additional training to prompt parents to engage in their children’s treatment and access mental health specialists.
The study found that children whose families received such “enhanced care” experienced greater improvements in hyperactivity/impulsivity and social skills than those who received the baseline level of care. A higher percentage of children in the enhanced-care group were also prescribed an ADHD medication, the study found.
“Among children with ADHD-consistent presentations, addressing barriers to engagement with care and challenging child behaviors has potential to improve the effectiveness of collaborative care,” the study concluded.
The authors noted that care for most children with ADHD is managed by primary care providers or pediatricians, and that care-management interventions may be useful in linking families to services.
“This approach could be particularly important for low-income and minority children, who have limited access to mental health specialists and often receive their care in under-resourced settings,” the authors said.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Schools of Medicine and Public Health and Boston Medical Center, led by Michael Silverstein, director of the Division of General Pediatrics at BMC and an associate professor of pediatrics at BUSM. SPH researchers included Emily Feinberg, associate professor of community health sciences and pediatrics, and Howard Cabral, professor of biostatistics.
Submitted by: Lisa Chedekel