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The University of Southampton

Research project: Programme for Early Detection and Intervention for ADHD (PEDIA)

Currently Active: 

The five year Programme for Early Detection and Intervention for ADHD ( PEDIA) commenced in December, 2009. This study is funded by the National Institute of Health Research and is being carried out in collaboration with NHS Solent Healthcare.

The research team include Professor Edmund-Sonuga Barke (Principal Investigator); Dr. Margaret Thompson (Clinical Lead); Dr. Donna McCann (Principal Research Fellow); Dr. Liz Smith (Research Fellow [Ed.Psych.]) and Johanna Korting (Research Fellow [MSc Research Methods]). The PEDIA study aims to produce a number of important benefits to the NHS and to the public, the most significant of which is the development of an evidence-based early detection and intervention model which can be implemented for preschoolers with high levels of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms.

This research initiative will target difficult to treat children and hard to reach families and tailor therapeutic interventions to respond to their particular needs. PEDIA will include the development of a preschool ADHD risk index (PARI) and profile which can be used to identify children most in need of early treatment. It will also include an enhanced version of the New Forest Parenting Programme (NFPP) which is designed to tackle the core symptoms of ADHD. The enhanced-NFPP will include special components for those children identified as being at most risk.

The overall programme will consist of five projects (P1 - P5) which are outlined below. 

  • P1 - Aim: To quantify the mental health, educational and economic outcomes in a large population of adolescents/young adults first assessed in the 1990s for symptoms of ADHD at 3 years.
    Key objective: To develop a preschool ADHD risk index (PARI) for poor outcome/high burden. 
  • P2 - Aim: To review the literature on hard-to-reach/high risk families and children. Key objective: To identify barriers to service engagement/treatment success. 
  • P3 - Aim: To conduct interviews with parents/stakeholders to identify barriers and solutions to the problems of engagement and treatment of hard-to-reach/high risk families and children. Key objective: To identify enhancements of NFPP so as to improve outcomes for subgroups of preschoolers with high levels of ADHD. 
  • P4 - Aim: To use information from P3 and expert advice and pilot data to enhance the NFPP. Key objective: To finalise an enhanced-NFPP for high risk and potentially difficult to treat children. 
  • P5 - Aim: To run a multi-centre RCT of the enhanced-NFPP versus a generic package recommended by NICE (Incredible Years) in a sample of preschool children with high levels of ADHD symptoms at risk for poor outcomes.

Key objectives include: (i) To see whether the enhanced-NFPP is more effective and cost-effective to see if outcomes are moderated by PARI scores. (iii) To identify remaining barriers to effectiveness.

Given the very high costs associated with ADHD and its typical co-morbidities to both society and the NHS, this new health technology could lead to a very significant reduction in the cost and burden to children, family and society. More specifically it may increase the cost effectiveness of treatments for ADHD symptoms by using targeted early intervention strategies that could improve outcomes and reduce costs in the longer term. It could also reduce the burden to families, society and the NHS associated with the long-term impairment often found with ADHD.

Project duration: 2009-2014
PI: Edmund Sonuga-Barke
Co-I’s: Margaret Thompson, David Daley, David Coghill, Joanne Barton, Sue Latter, David Turner, Ros Tolcher, Mark Mullee, Steve George, Cathy Laver-Bradbury

Funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Related research groups

Developmental Brain-Behaviour Laboratory (DBBL)
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