A study conducted by professionals from the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Unit of SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital, on a sample of 120 patients, has revealed that practising mindfulness reduces attention problems and improves the behaviour of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
In light of the results, the authors of the study concluded that mindfulness could become an effective new intervention strategy for these children, complementing pharmacological treatment.
The results of the first phase of this study will soon be published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
Led by Dr José Ángel Alda, the study analysed a group of 60 patients aged 7 to 12 years who, on being diagnosed with ADHD, practised mindfulness, comparing this group with another group of 60 patients who received counselling and underwent psychoeducational interventions upon diagnosis.
The mindfulness programme attended by the children was led by the psychologist Anna Huguet and involved eight weekly 75-minute sessions. During the session they were taught mindfulness exercises that they could then practise at home for the rest of the week.
The results showed that the children who had followed the mindfulness programme had reduced symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and emotional dysregulation, as well as anxiety, to a greater extent than the children who had followed the standard treatment for this disorder. A reduction in irritability and episodes of anger was also observed.
The standard treatment followed involved psychoeducation about the disorder, behavioural guidelines and psychoeducational interventions. Pharmacological treatment was not included.
A guide for professionals on the methodology used
In light of the positive results, the authors of the study have developed a guide detailing the objectives and guidelines of Mindfulness for Health (M4H), the mindfulness programme conducted on their patients and which they are now disclosing to mental health professionals and other clinical areas wanting to apply it.
Developed with the support of Laboratorios Rubió, the guide includes the methodology and all mindfulness activities designed by the authors to treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which affects between 5 and 7 of every 100 children. The document is free to access and can be downloaded from the Faros Observatory portal (in Spanish).