The following is a summary of the “Dialectical behavioral therapy-based group treatment versus treatment as usual for adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a multicenter randomized controlled trial” published in the November 2022 issue of Psychiatry by Halmøy et al.

Studies on structured skills training groups have revealed favorable, although still unclear, effects on core symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) in adults. Clinically important aspects of executive functioning and emotional regulation in individuals with ADHD were tested in this study of DBT-based group treatment (DBT-bGT). Adult patients with ADHD were randomly assigned to receive either DBT-bGT or treatments as usual (TAU) for 14 weeks in a multicenter randomized controlled experiment. Participants initially assigned to TAU were subsequently administered DBT-bGT. All were reviewed 6 months after ended DBT-bGT. 

The primary measures were the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF-A). Secondary outcomes were self-reported ADHD-symptoms, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and quality of life. Researchers utilized univariate linear models that accounted for site differences in addition to independent samples t-tests to examine the mean difference in change from pre- to post-treatment between the 2 groups. Of the 121 people who started the trial (68 women) from 7 distinct outpatient clinics, 104 (86%) finished it. Entering the research, 63% utilized medication for ADHD. Patients who initially completed DBT-bGT (n=50) showed a greater mean reduction on the BRIEF-A (-12.8 versus -0.37, P=0.005, effect size =0.64) and all secondary outcomes except for anxiety symptoms, compared to TAU (n=54).

At the 6-month follow-up, all of the notable gains were still there. There was no significant difference in DERS change between groups after 14 weeks, but scores continued to drop between the conclusion of group treatment and follow-up. It was found that DBT-bGT was more effective than TAU in lowering executive dysfunction, core symptoms of ADHD, and enhancing quality of life in adults with ADHD. Results maintained even after medication was discontinued for 6 months. This study’s findings, both in terms of its feasibility and its effects, suggest that this type of group therapy may be an effective non-pharmacological treatment alternative for adults with ADHD in regular clinical settings.