Effectiveness of Stimulant Medications on Disruptive Behavior and Mood Problems in Young Children

Ian Parsley, Zhuo Zhang, Mark Hausmann, Arica Lerdahl, Brigette Vaughan, Ryan Edwards, Soonjo Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: There are very few studies on the effectiveness of stimulant medications for the treatment of disruptive mood and behavior problems in young children (less than 7 years) with Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBD). The current study aims to determine whether young children (ages 4-7) in a long-term, intensive outpatient behavioral treatment program who are receiving stimulant medications show greater improvement in mood and behavior problems compared to peers who did not. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted for 97 participants diagnosed with DBD, aged 4-7 years old who were enrolled in an intensive outpatient behavioral intervention program. Pre-and post-intervention Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) scores for disruptive behavior and mood problems were compared between the children who received stimulant medications and those who did not. Results: Paired t tests showed a statistically significant improvement in CBCL outcomes between pre-and post-intervention scores of disruptive behavior and mood problems. ANCOVA analysis, however, showed no clear further improvement in those same CBCL scores in the participants who received stimulant medications compared to the participants who did not. CBCL scores for Conduct Disorder were marginally significant for less improvement for the participants who received stimulant medications. Conclusion: This retrospective review suggests a possibility that stimulant medications may not provide additional benefit for the long-term treatment of disruptive behavior and mood problems in young children under age 7. Future study is warranted to evaluate the efficacy/effectiveness of stimulant medications in the treatment of disruptive behavior and mood problems in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Effectiveness
  • Stimulant medication
  • Young children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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