Psychostimulants are first line of therapy for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. The evidence suggests that up to 30% of those prescribed stimulant medications do not show clinically significant outcomes. In addition, many children and adolescents experience side-effects from these medications. As a result, parents are seeking alternate interventions for their children. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies for behavioural disorders such as AD/HD are increasing with as many as 68% of parents having sought help from alternative practitioners, including chiropractors.
The review seeks to answer the question of whether chiropractic care can reduce symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD.
Electronic databases (Cochrane CENTRAL register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic reviews, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, ISI Web of Science, Index to Chiropractic Literature) were searched from inception until July 2009 for English language studies for chiropractic care and AD/HD. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to select studies. All randomised controlled trials were evaluated using the Jadad score and a checklist developed from the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) guidelines.
The search yielded 58 citations of which 22 were intervention studies. Of these, only three studies were identified for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD cohorts. The methodological quality was poor and none of the studies qualified using inclusion criteria.
To date there is insufficient evidence to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic care for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD. The claim that chiropractic care improves paediatric and adolescent AD/HD, is only supported by low levels of scientific evidence. In the interest of paediatric and adolescent health, if chiropractic care for AD/HD is to continue, more rigorous scientific research needs to be undertaken to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. Adequately-sized RCTs using clinically relevant outcomes and standardised measures to examine the effectiveness of chiropractic care verses no-treatment/placebo control or standard care (pharmacological and psychosocial care) are needed to determine whether chiropractic care is an effective alternative intervention for paediatric and adolescent AD/HD.
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