Synthesising the existing evidence for non-pharmacological interventions targeting outcomes relevant to young people with ADHD in the school setting: systematic review protocol

Abigail E. Russell, Darren Moore, Amy Sanders, Barnaby Dunn, Rachel Hayes, Judi Kidger, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Linda Pfiffner, Tamsin Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have impairing levels of difficulty paying attention, impulsive behaviour and/or hyperactivity. ADHD causes extensive difficulties for young people at school, and as a result these children are at high risk for a wide range of poor outcomes. We ultimately aim to develop a flexible, modular 'toolkit' of evidence-based strategies that can be delivered by primary school staff to improve the school environment and experience for children with ADHD; the purpose of this review is to identify and quantify the evidence-base for potential intervention components. This protocol sets out our plans to systematically identify non-pharmacological interventions that target outcomes that have been reported to be of importance to key stakeholders (ADHD symptoms, organisation skills, executive-global- and classroom-functioning, quality of life, self-esteem and conflict with teachers and peers). We plan to link promising individual intervention components to measured outcomes, and synthesise the evidence of effectiveness for each outcome. METHODS: A systematic search for studies published from the year 2000 that target the outcomes of interest in children and young people aged 3-12 will be conducted. Titles and abstracts will be screened using prioritisation software, and then full texts of potentially eligible studies will be screened. Systematic reviews, RCTs, non-randomised and case-series studies are eligible designs. Synthesis will vary by the type of evidence available, potentially including a review of reviews, meta-analysis and narrative synthesis. Heterogeneity of studies meta-analysed will be assessed, along with publication bias. Intervention mapping will be applied to understand potential behaviour change mechanisms for promising intervention components. DISCUSSION: This review will highlight interventions that appear to effectively ameliorate negative outcomes that are of importance for people with ADHD, parents, school staff and experts. Components of intervention design and features that are associated with effective change in the outcome will be delineated and used to inform the development of a 'toolkit' of non-pharmacological strategies that school staff can use to improve the primary school experience for children with ADHD. TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO number CRD42021233924.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Pages (from-to)28
Number of pages1
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022


  • ADHD
  • Global functioning
  • Intervention mapping
  • Non-pharmacological interventions
  • Organisation skills
  • Quality of life
  • School
  • School relationships
  • Self-esteem, Executive functioning
  • Systematic review


Dive into the research topics of 'Synthesising the existing evidence for non-pharmacological interventions targeting outcomes relevant to young people with ADHD in the school setting: systematic review protocol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this