Principal Investigator: Brooke Molina, PhD
Funding Source: Jewish Healthcare Foundation
The Challenging Horizons Program (CHP) is an after-school program for adolescents with ADHD and was developed by Steve Evans, PhD. The CHP is an intensive psychosocial (non-medicinal) treatment program that provides behavioral interventions, consultation with teachers, academic skills training/educational interventions, family therapy/parent training, and training in skills such as problem-solving and interpersonal skills. The CHP includes group and individual interventions with students and their counselors.
Dr. Molina and her team conducted a small, randomized controlled trial of this treatment modality in a large southwestern PA middle school. This was the first randomized clinical trial of the afterschool program with youth diagnosed with ADHD, and, despite the abbreviated program length (less than a full school year), the results indicated modest beneficial treatment effects. We found either improvements in functioning or absence of deterioration that often occurs for teenagers with ADHD. Moreover, the results were found across parent and adolescent reports and official grade reports and despite more medication treatment for ADHD by the teens in the comparison group. (By the end of treatment, 67% of the comparison group vs. 18% of the treatment group were medicated for ADHD.) Unexpectedly, the strongest results were those pertaining to the broad domain of internalizing symptoms or self-esteem measured by parent-reported internalizing symptoms and adolescent-reported emotional symptoms and school maladjustment. These findings suggested that, from the perspective of the parents and the youth, program participation led to happier and better-adjusted students.