Mental health

Pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Question 7: What is the effectiveness, safety and role of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, within non-specialist health care, for children with a diagnosis of Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Management of child and adolescent mental disorders

  • Population: children with a diagnosis of ADHD
  • Interventions: pharmacological interventions (atomoxetine, methylphenidate, dexamphetamine)
  • Comparison:
    • placebo
    • one intervention versus other
  • Outcomes:
    • symptom reduction
    • adverse effects
    • family/school functioning
    • treatment satisfaction
    • physical health
    • user satisfaction.


Non-specialized health care providers at the secondary level should consider initiating parent education/training before starting medication for a child who has been diagnosed as suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Initial interventions may include cognitive-behavioural therapy and social skills training if feasible.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

Methylphenidate may be considered, when available, after a careful assessment of the child, preferably in consultation with relevant specialist and taking into consideration the preferences of parents and children. Children receiving methylphenidate should be maintained under close clinical monitoring for improvement in symptoms and prevention of adverse effects. Care and support should be provided for the parents, if needed.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

Evidence profile