This study aims to report the effect sizes of telemedicine treatments on the symptom domains of paediatric ADHD.
In this systematic review and meta-analysis, electronic databases, i.e. PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Embase, were searched for articles published up to December 2020. The inclusion criteria were as follows: children or adolescents diagnosed for ADHD or other hyperkinetic disorders; randomized controlled trials (RCTs); efficacy established with parents and teachers or self-rating scales at least for one of the following domains: inattention, cognitive function, hyperactivity, hyperactivity/impulsivity or oppositional behaviours. The risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool for RCTs.
From 310 records reduced to 228 after removing duplicates, overall 12 studies were fulfilled our inclusion criteria. They consisted of 708 participants (358 with telemedicine intervention and 350 controls). The telemedicine interventions varied from computerized training programmes with phone calls to videoconferencing programmes, virtual reality classrooms or games. The most applicable method consisted of computerized training programmes with phone calls. Pooling results of all studies with available data on each subscale showed a significant effect of telemedicine on inattention/cognitive function (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.26, 95% CI: 0.16, 0.36), hyperactivity/impulsivity (SMD = 0.29, 95% CI: 0.06, 0.52), and oppositional behaviours (SMD = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.24, 1.20) subscales in ADHD. Almost all studies had an overall unclear risk of bias. The source of outcome assessment (parents, teachers or self-report questionnaire) was addressed as a potential confounding factor. In almost all symptom domains, the satisfaction from the treatment was higher in parents than in teachers.
The clinical effects of telemedicine on the treatment of ADHD showed a small effect size for inattention/cognitive function, hyperactivity/impulsivity and oppositional behaviours.