Children, adolescents and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience functional impairment and poor health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in addition to symptoms of inattention/hyperactivity-impulsivity. To synthesize qualitatively the published evidence from randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy on functional impairment or HRQoL in patients with ADHD, a systematic PubMed searching and screening strategy was designed to identify journal articles meeting pre-specified criteria. Post hoc analyses and meta-analyses were excluded. HRQoL outcomes, functional outcomes and the principal ADHD symptom-based outcome were extracted from included studies. An effect size of 0.5 versus placebo was used as a threshold for potential clinical relevance (unreported effect sizes were calculated when possible). Of 291 records screened, 35 articles describing 34 studies were included. HRQoL/functioning was usually self-rated in adults and proxy-rated in children/adolescents. Baseline data indicated substantial HRQoL deficits in children/adolescents. Placebo-adjusted effects of medication on ADHD symptoms, HRQoL and functioning, respectively, were statistically or nominally significant in 18/18, 10/12 and 7/9 studies in children/adolescents and 14/16, 9/11 and 9/10 studies in adults. Effect sizes were ≥0.5 versus placebo for symptoms, HRQoL and functioning, respectively, in 14/16, 7/9 and 4/8 studies in children/adolescents; and 6/12, 1/6 and 1/8 studies in adults. Effect sizes were typically larger for stimulants than for non-stimulants, for symptoms than for HRQoL/functioning, and for children/adolescents than for adults. The efficacy of ADHD medication extends beyond symptom control and may help reduce the related but distinct functional impairments and HRQoL deficits in patients with ADHD.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Quality of life
- Functional impairment
- Randomized clinical trials
- Systematic review