Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often exhibit behaviour challenges and deficits in executive functions (EF). Psychostimulant medications [, methylphenidate (MPH)] are commonly prescribed for children with ADHD and are considered effective in 70% of the cases. Furthermore, only a handful of studies have investigated the long-term impact of MPH medication on EF and behaviour.
To evaluate behaviour and EF challenges in children with ADHD who were involved in an MPH treatment trial across three-time points.
Thirty-seven children with ADHD completed a stimulant medication trial to study the short- and long-term impact of medication. Children with ADHD completed three neuropsychological assessments [Continuous Performance Test (CPT)-II, Digit Span Backwards and Spatial Span Backwards]. Parents of children with ADHD completed behaviour rating scales [Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF) and Behaviour Assessment System for Children-Second Edition (BASC-2)]. Participants were evaluated at: (1) Baseline (no medication); and (2) Best-dose (BD; following four-week MPH treatment). Additionally, 18 participants returned for a long-term naturalistic follow up (FU; up to two years following BD).
Repeated measure analyses of variance found significant effects of time on two subscales of BRIEF and four subscales of BASC-2. Neuropsychological assessments showed some improvement, but not on all tasks following the medication trial. These improvements did not sustain at FU, with increases in EF and behaviour challenges, and a decline in performance on the CPT-II task being observed.
Parents of children with ADHD reported improvements in EF and behaviours during the MPH trial but were not sustained at FU. Combining screening tools and neuropsychological assessments may be useful for monitoring medication responses.

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