OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to compare the effect of continuing and discontinuing medications on quality of life of patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Embase databases were searched using generic terms for ADHD, discontinuing, continuing, pharmacotherapy, and randomized controlled trials without date or language restrictions.
STUDY SELECTION: Of the 3,672 screened studies, 9 met the predefined inclusion criteria on patients with ADHD; 5 of these 9 studies reporting on 1,463 patients (children and adolescents, n = 894; adults, n = 569) measured quality of life and were included in this meta-analysis. Only randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled withdrawal trials of ADHD medications were included.
DATA EXTRACTION: Data were independently extracted according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Analyses were based on random-effects models.
RESULTS: Compared with continuing medications, discontinuing them significantly worsened quality of life score in patients with ADHD (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.19; 95% CI, 0.08 to 0.30]). Moreover, discontinuing medications worsened this score in children and adolescents with ADHD (SMD = 0.21; 95% CI, 0.06 to 0.36) but not in adults with ADHD (SMD = 0.02; 95% CI, -0.46 to 0.50).
CONCLUSIONS: Discontinuing medications was associated with a small but statistically significant decrease in quality of life among children and adolescents with ADHD but not in adults with ADHD. Quality of life can be applied in pharmacologic interventions regarding continuing and discontinuing medication because this concept is related to individuals' appraisal of their situation. Quality of life is an important factor for planning individualized ADHD medication treatment.
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