Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 841–855 | Cite as

Parenting as a Mechanism of Change in Psychosocial Treatment for Youth with ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

  • Lauren M. Haack
  • Miguel Villodas
  • Keith McBurnett
  • Stephen Hinshaw
  • Linda J. Pfiffner


We investigated whether parenting and child behavior improve following psychosocial treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (ADHD-I) and whether parenting improvements mediate child outcomes. We analyzed data from a randomized clinical trial investigating the efficacy of a multicomponent psychosocial intervention (Child Life and Attention Skills, CLAS, n = 74) in comparison to Parent-Focused Treatment (PFT, n = 74) and treatment as usual (TAU, n = 51) for youth with ADHD-I (average child age = 8.6 years, range 7–11 years, 58 % boys). Child and parent/family functioning were assessed prior to treatment, immediately following treatment, and at follow-up into the subsequent school year using parent and teacher reports of inattention, organization, social skills, academic competency (teachers only), parenting daily hassles, and positive and negative parenting behaviors (parents only). Both treatment groups improved on negative parenting and home impairment, but only CLAS families also improved on positive parenting as well as academic impairment. Improvements in positive and negative parenting mediated treatment effects on child impairment independent of improvements in child inattention, implicating parenting as an important mechanism of change in psychosocial treatment for ADHD-I. Further, whereas parent-focused training produces improvements in negative parenting and impairment at home for children with ADHD-I, a multicomponent approach (incorporating child skills training and teacher consultation) more consistently produces improvements at school and in positive parenting, which may contribute to improvements in social skills into the next school year.


ADHD-inattentive presentation Parenting Behavioral intervention Mediation Treatment mechanisms 



This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health R01 MH077671.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. McBurnett has received research support from Alcobra, and Sunovian Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Drs. Haack, Villodas, Hinshaw, and Pfiffner report no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

Human subject study procedures were approved by the Committee on Human Research at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley.

Informed Consent

All participants provided informed consent and children provided assent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren M. Haack
    • 1
  • Miguel Villodas
    • 2
  • Keith McBurnett
    • 1
  • Stephen Hinshaw
    • 3
  • Linda J. Pfiffner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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