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February 1979

The Effects of Methylphenidate on the Mother-Child Interactions of Hyperactive Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Children's Hospital (Dr Barkley), and the Department of Psychiatry, Chedoke Hospital and McMaster Medical School, Hamilton, Ontario (Dr Cunningham).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(2):201-208. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780020091010

• Twenty hyperactive boys were observed while interacting with their mothers during a free play and task period on each of three occasions (no drug, drug, placebo). A triple-blind, drugplacebo crossover design was used to study the effects of methylphenidate on these interactions. A complex objective coding system was used to score the children's responses to various maternal behaviors as well as the mothers' responses to a variety of children's behaviors. Results indicated that these children were more compliant with maternal commands during drug treatment. In response, mothers displayed increased attention to compliance while reducing their directiveness toward the boys. However, the hyperactive boys receiving methylphenidate initiated fewer social interactions and tended to show greater nonresponding. Thus, methylphenidate may improve the compliance of hyperactive children but tends to decrease their sociability.