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Research and Projects

Non-pharmacological interventions for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in school settings

Theme: CLAHRC - Mental Health & Dementia
Status: Complete

The systematic reviews in this project were carried out in conjunction with the Evidence Synthesis Team.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has many negative impacts, and children with ADHD are less likely to fulfil their academic potential than their peers. ADHD continues to affect young people into adulthood, and the impact of the difficulties with focusing attention, restlessness and impulsivity can dramatically affect their life-course and the lives of those in contact with them. Children at risk of ADHD are often unable to remain seated to eat, travel or study, are extremely fidgety and distractible, and struggle to focus attention and carry out complex instructions. These patterns of behaviour often lead to secondary difficulties, such as defiance and disobedience, aggression, problems with peer relationship, an inability to react to their environment in an age-appropriate way, and difficulty in keeping strong emotions in check.

Non-pharmacological interventions are an important part of any comprehensive plan for the treatment of ADHD. A better knowledge and understanding of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions within schools will improve recommendations and influence the commissioning of appropriate services.

Project aims

This project aimed to evaluate non-pharmacological interventions delivered in school settings for children with, or at risk of, ADHD and to explore the factors that may enhance or limit their effectiveness.

This project was funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme (project number 10/140/02).

Current activity

The project consited of five components that were brought together with an overarching synthesis, four systematic reviews and a mapping exercise to identify the key elements required for effective delivery in schools.

Quantitative reviews of the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of relevant interventions were undertaken, plus reviews of attitudes towards interventions and qualitative research to explore the experience of ADHD in school among children, parents and teachers, and the attitudes and experiences of parents, children, teachers and others involved in the delivery of specific ADHD interventions in schools.

The project team collaborated with the Peninisula Cerebra Research Unit for Childhood Disability Research (PenCRU).

Project outputs

This project has produced a number of publications:

  • The final project report was published in July 2015 in Health Technology Assessment.
  • Gwernan-Jones R, Moore D, Garside R, Richardson M, Thompson-Coon J, Rogers M, Cooper P, Stein, K & Ford T. (2014, In press). ADHD, parent perspectives and parent-teacher relationships: Grounds for conflict. British Journal of Special Education
  • Moore, D., Gwernan-Jones R, Wooding, E & Richardson, M. (2014, in press) School-based approaches to supporting ADHD for young people: A summary of two systematic reviews. ADHD in Practice
  • Moore D, Abbott R, Reeve J, Newlove-Delgado TV, Kyeremateng R, Rogers M, Gwernan-Jones R, Richardson M, Garside R, Stein K, Ford TJ & Thompson-Coon J. (2014). A systematic review of educator attitudes towards non-pharmacological interventions for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder used in school settings. Manuscript submitted for publication
  • Moore D, Richardson M, Gwernan-Jones R, Thompson-Coon J, Logan S, Stein K, Garside R & Ford T. (2014). Non-pharmacological interventions for ADHD in school settings: An overarching synthesis of systematic reviews.

The team have also delivered nine presentations and six posters at a variety of conferences.

Further information

For more information, view the protocol.

You can read a news story on the outcomes of the project on our website. This story was also featured in The Independent and in the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

Related publications

Moore DA, Russell AE, Arnell S, Ford TJ. Educators' experiences of managing students with ADHD: a qualitative study. Child: Care, Health and Development 2017

Gwernan-Jones R, Moore DA, Cooper P, Russell AE, Richardson M, Rogers M, Thompson-Coon J, Stein K, Ford TJ, Garside R, et al (2016). A systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research: the influence of school context on symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorderEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties21(1), 83-100. 

Moore DA, Whittaker S, Ford TJ (2016). Daily report cards as a school-based intervention for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorderSupport for Learning31(1), 71-83. 

Moore DA, Gwernan-Jones R, Richardson M, Racey D, Rogers M, Stein K, Thompson-Coon J, Ford TJ, Garside R (2016). The experiences of and attitudes toward non-pharmacological interventions for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder used in school settings: a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative researchEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties21(1), 61-82. 

Gwernan-Jones R, Moore DA, Garside R, Richardson M, Thompson-Coon J, Rogers M, Cooper P, Stein K, Ford T (2015). ADHD, parent perspectives and parent-teacher relationships: grounds for conflictBritish Journal of Special Education42(3), 279-300.  

Thompson-Coon J, Gwernan-Jones R, Moore D, Richardson M, Shotton C, Pritchard W, Morris C, Stein K, Ford T(2015). End-user involvement in a systematic review of quantitative and qualitative research of non-pharmacological interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder delivered in school settings: reflections on the impacts and challengesHealth Expectations19(5), 1084-1097.  

Newlove-Delgado T, Moore D, Ukoumunne OC, Stein K, Ford T (2015). Mental health related contact with education professionals in the British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Survey 2004Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice10(3), 159-169. 

Richardson M, Moore D, Gwernan-Jones R, Thompson-Coon J, Ukoumunne O, Rogers M, Whear R, Newlove-Delgado T, Logan S, Morris C, et al (2015). Non pharmacological interventions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) delivered in school settings: Systematic reviews of quantitative and qualitative researchHealth Technology Assessment19(45) 

Moore DA, Richardson M, Gwernan-Jones R, Thompson-Coon J, Stein K, Rogers M, Garside R, Logan S, Ford TJ (2015). Non-Pharmacological Interventions for ADHD in School Settings: an Overarching Synthesis of Systematic ReviewsJ Atten Disord 

Moore D, Gwernan-Jones R, Wooding E, Richardson M (2014). School-based approaches to supporting young people with ADHD: a summary of two systematic reviewsADHD in Practice6(4), 4-7.

Others Involved

Dr Ruth Gwernan-Jones, Chris Cooper, Brahm Norwich, Eric Taylor, Will Pritchard, Catherine Shotton