Do Parents’ ADHD Symptoms Affect Treatment for their Children?

Do Parents’ ADHD Symptoms Affect Treatment for their Children? The Impact of Parental ADHD on Adherence to Behavioral Parent Training for Childhood ADHD.

Friedman LM, Dvorsky MR, McBurnett K, Pfiffner LJ.

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2020 Aug 19.

doi: 10.1007/s10802-020-00672-1.


Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: Half of children with ADHD will have a parent with ADHD. Given that behavioral parent training is a critical part of treatment, and that ADHD parents have problems with implementation between sessions, treatment of the parent, but also particular between session supports may be necessary to optimize outcome in this group of patients.



Nearly half of all youth with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have at least one parent who also meets criteria for the disorder, and intergenerational ADHD is a significant risk factor for poor outcomes following evidence-based behavioral parent training (BPT) programs. Given that BPT is predicated on consistent parental involvement, symptoms of ADHD in parents may be a significant barrier to effective engagement with BPT treatment.

In the present investigation, we examine the effect of parental ADHD symptoms on BPT treatment engagement for children with ADHD-predominantly inattentive presentation (N = 148, ages 7-11).

We examine the following parent- and clinician-rated treatment engagement domains: between-session skill adherence, in-session participation, perceived skill understanding, treatment-engagement attitudes, and session attendance. Parent- and clinician-rated between-session adherence was the only treatment engagement domain related significantly to parental ADHD symptoms.

This finding was robust and remained even after accounting for symptoms of parental anxiety and depression, child ADHD symptom severity, and various sociodemographic factors (parental education level, household income, employment status, and being a single parent).

These findings suggest that targeting parental ADHD symptoms in the context of parenting interventions may be a promising approach for improving adherence and treatment outcomes for BPT interventions.

* Abstracts are selected for their clinical relevance by Dr. Margaret Weiss, Director of Clinical Research, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University. Her commentary reflects her own opinion.  It is not approved or necessarily representative of the CADDRA board.



The website is hand-crafted in ZippyHippo online marketing studio.