Objectives: This paper reviews the implications of the large-scale USA Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) by the MTA Cooperative group for planning of clinical services for children with attention deficit hyper-activity disorder in Australia. Method: The MTA study findings of no significant difference between active medication treatment alone, and combined medication combined with behaviour therapy treatments, on core symptom outcomes, are examined. Service traditions, workforce issues, diagnostic and ethical and philosophical considerations are discussed in relation to their impact on service planning in Australia. Implications of pharmacogenomic research are examined. Ethical and philosophical questions are raised in relation to the use of stimulant medications for subthreshold symptoms and for socialization of children. Results: A critical evaluation of results reveals that combined treatments allow the use of lower medication doses, and that multimodal treatments are effective for comorbid symptoms. Completion of the Human Genome Project promises increasing technological advances. Arguments for and against a technological approach to child rearing are posited. Conclusions: The MTA study raises not just service planning questions, but also important ethical and philosophical considerations about optimal degree of medicalization of services in an increasingly technological society. Child psychiatrists will be required to have an understanding of technological developments if they wish to contribute to future debates.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- MTA study