The Effects of Mindfulness-based Interventions on Functioning of Children and Youth with ADHD : A Systematic Literature Review

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation

Abstract: Background: Given the incomplete benefits of the pharmacological therapy for ADHD and its over-prescription in children over the last decades, there is an explicit need for alternative treatments. Mindfulness-based Interventions (MBIs) are a family of emergent self-regulation practices including meditation, yoga and body-awareness exercises, found to be an effective therapy for ADHD. Due to poor methodological design and significant risk of bias across studies, mindfulness approach remains an investigational treatment. Aim: This systematic review sought to identify and critically appraise the evidence on the functioning outcomes of MBIs in children and youth with ADHD. Method: The literature search was conducted in 7 databases for psychology and social sciences to identify controlled trials – randomized- and non-randomized, evaluating MBIs published in peer-reviewed journal in English between 2000-2019. Only studies focusing on children and youth aged 7-18 years with documented ADHD symptoms were considered for inclusion. Results: Six controlled trials were included and analysed. Meditation, breathing techniques, self-awareness and yoga exercises were the most common activities implemented across the 6 studies. Significant reduction of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms; and improvements of sustained attention, working memory and emotional regulation were reported across studies, with small to large effect size. Conclusion: Despite the limitations, MBIs do prove to be an effective complementary treatment for reduction of the core ADHD symptoms and improvement of executive functioning (EF). Further research is needed to elucidate how these interventions improve social functioning and participation of children and youth with ADHD, which would enable a wider implementation of these practices at the community level.

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