View Full Version : Study: Ritalin Doesn't Help Academic Performance


RedHairedWitch
06-18-13, 09:01 AM
The more acute a child's ADHD symptoms, the worse they scored for every outcome measured. But despite confirming that Ritalin use increased, especially among children with the worst ADHD, the authors found "little overall improvement in outcomes" in the short-term.

News story: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/study-ritalin-doesnt-help-academic-performance/276894/

There is a link to the study at the bottom of the news article, but you need a subscription to read it.

RobotInDisguise
06-18-13, 09:42 AM
Because this study looked at Ritalin use from a population level, the authors caution that they were unable to determine whether Ritalin was being used correctly -- if children were getting the optimal dosage, for example, or if they were taking the meds consistently. They find it a bit worrying, then, that "in Quebec, as in the U.S., any doctor can prescribe Ritalin, and it is not necessary to have expertise treating ADHD."

TygerSan
06-19-13, 10:54 AM
Not that this study doesn't have merit, but I do find it a bit head-scratching that it's in an economics journal. It's equally annoying that I can't, from the free text provided, determine *how* they made their measurements, or what variables they controlled for.

Honestly, it doesn't surprise me that the children with worse ADHD do worse in school. Meds don't solve everything, after all, and it's possible that the outcomes would have been even more dire without intervention.

Fraser_0762
06-19-13, 10:58 AM
I would argue that by improving concentration levels, it does help to improve academic performance in those who simply can't concentrate on mentally demanding tasks.

I don't really see why it wouldn't.

sarahsweets
06-19-13, 11:44 AM
Im skeptical of all studies that start with "a large long term study" if thats the case then share the stats.

namazu
06-19-13, 12:13 PM
Not that this study doesn't have merit, but I do find it a bit head-scratching that it's in an economics journal. It's equally annoying that I can't, from the free text provided, determine *how* they made their measurements, or what variables they controlled for.
Im skeptical of all studies that start with "a large long term study" if thats the case then share the stats.
I'm confused -- are we looking at the same thing?

When I click the link I get the full text (40 pages) of a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (http://www.nber.org/papers/w19105.pdf) (free), with a link to an appendix with supplemental data (http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w19105/ritalinDataAppendix.pdf) (also free). This doesn't appear to have been published in a journal.

The paper discusses the survey from which data were obtained, gives detailed estimating equations, etc.

I wonder if The Atlantic changed the link at some point between when you and I saw it...?

The reason it's from an econ research agency, I think, is because it was motivated in part by a change in policy in Quebec towards coverage of certain prescription meds. I suppose the results could be used (likely spuriously) to suggest that Quebec shouldn't cover the medication. The National Bureau of Economic Research (http://www.nber.org/info.html), by the way, is not a government agency in either the U.S. or Canada -- it seems to be a think-tank based in Massachusetts.

I don't have time to wade through the paper now, but there definitely are all kinds of challenges in interpreting studies like this...even with more details about the methods and stats.

EDIT: Aha! I figured out what's going on. They give free access to people in certain countries, and I'm logged in from one of those countries. So I can see the whole thing, while people logging in from the U.S. (not through a library or university or government site) can only see a teaser. :p

meadd823
06-23-13, 02:10 AM
I'm not to sure where you are viewing from but apparently your experience is not the universal one - I didn't get 40 pages of diddly a screen shot speaks a thousand words and requires less spell check time

http://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s206/tlr823/debate%20-one%20time%20only/screenshot62113_zps85d37359.gif


those itty bitty words under the title "information about free papers" say:

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

The rest of us are getting basically what redhairedwitch describes.

Crazygirl79
06-23-13, 03:43 AM
As a person who has taken Ritalin on and off throughout my childhood and teenage years I can safely attest to the fact that Ritalin DID help with my academic performance, in 11th grade I was placed back on Ritalin temporarily and I had a teacher aide assigned to me for literacy which I was reasonably good at anyway and during this time my grades did go up as I was more settled and able to concentrate better.

When I first started school I was fairly hyperactive and my mother got told that if I wasn't medicated I wasn't allowed to attend school and that was a special ed facility!! That should give you an idea of how bad things were, I was placed on Ritalin and there were a significant improvement in behaviour and academic ability due to able to concentrate much better.

Like Sarahsweets I'm also sceptical of these sorts of "studies" and I'd be really interested in the stats, when this study was done, who did the study, how they came to this conclusion, where you found this stuff from (hopefully not some p*ssy magazine because I'll never take you seriously again if that's the case) and whether it was from a reputable source.

Sel x

meadd823
06-23-13, 03:47 AM
From article itself . . .


Because this study looked at Ritalin use from a population level, the authors caution that they were unable to determine whether Ritalin was being used correctly -- if children were getting the optimal dosage, for example, or if they were taking the meds consistently. They find it a bit worrying, then, that "in Quebec, as in the U.S., any doctor can prescribe Ritalin, and it is not necessary to have expertise treating ADHD."


I smell agenda - it sort of smells of fouling fish feces

Crazygirl79
06-23-13, 03:50 AM
I've just read it and it appears to be an online newspaper article which really makes me skeptical as the media are well known for twisting and turning thing, I also went onto the National Bureau of Economic Research as that the link given and I didn't find anything worth reading and there didn't appear to be any other links which also makes me skeptical, the comment made by a reader pretty goes along the same lines as my first post and I'm pretty sure others can come out of the wood works and attest to the same thing...I would seriously like to know which subjects they used for this "study"

Sel x

meadd823
06-23-13, 03:51 AM
Because this study looked at Ritalin use from a population level, the authors caution that they were unable to determine whether Ritalin was being used correctly -- if children were getting the optimal dosage, for example, or if they were taking the meds consistently. They find it a bit worrying, then, that "in Quebec, as in the U.S., any doctor can prescribe Ritalin, and it is not necessary to have expertise treating ADHD."


Where as I find it more worrisome that any idiot can make any claim they want and still call it creditable journalism :D