Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic developmental disorder affecting 3-7% of children. In light of the growing utilization of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation in ADHD populations and potential benefits it has on ADHD symptoms, executive function deficits, and social functioning, we sought to evaluate these interventions for youth with ADHD.
The primary aim of this review paper is to identify the efficacy of these programs for the treatment of youth with ADHD through a systematic review and meta-analysis. A systematic literature search was conducted in the following electronic databases: PsychINFO, ERIC, PubMed, and MEDLINE. Studies were included in the meta-analytic review if participants were between 5-17 years old, had a diagnosis of ADHD or met symptom threshold on psychometrically-validated measure of ADHD symptoms, was a treatment outcome study, and was published in a peer-reviewed English-language journal.
The effect sizes of eleven studies demonstrate that yoga, mindfulness-based interventions, and/or meditation had a statistically significant effect on the outcomes of ADHD symptoms, hyperactivity, and inattention (parent and teacher report), as well as parent-child relationship, executive functioning, on-task behavior, parent stress, and parent trait-mindfulness (p < 0.05). The effect sizes range from small to large effects across these outcomes.
Considerable risk for bias was found across studies. Given significant methodological limitations of the literature, positive effect sizes found in studies should be interpreted with caution; these interventions should not be considered first-line interventions for ADHD. However, preliminary findings suggest yoga, mindfulness, and meditation may be beneficial for youth with ADHD, but extensive research is required to validate the efficacy of these interventions.
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