ADHD drug in kid, placebo effect in adults

June 30, 2009 at 12:57 AM
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BUFFALO, N.Y., June 30 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers find a placebo effect, not in children taking the medication for attention deficit-hyperactive disorder, but in the adults in their lives.

The review of existing studies evaluating whether placebos produce significant changes in children with ADHD -- published in the Journal of Development & Behavioral Pediatrics -- suggests teachers, parents and other adults tend to view and treat more favorably children who they think are receiving medication, whether or not medication is actually involved.

The University at Buffalo researchers define a placebo effect as a positive change in symptoms or behavior when a patient receives a "fake" medication or procedure. Belief in the medicine may become the medicine.

"We speculate that the perception that a child is receiving ADHD medication may bring about a shift in attitude in a teacher or caregiver. They may have a more positive view of the child, which could create a better relationship," review leader Daniel Waschbusch says in a statement.

"If teachers treat children more positively if they think they are on medication, that is a good thing. But if the child's medication is increased because caregivers think it is effective, that may not be a good thing."

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