Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Nienke Siebelink (Donders series 533)

17 January 2022

Promotors: Prof. dr. J.K. Buitelaar, Prof. dr. A.E.M. Speckens, Prof. dr. S.M. Bögels, Prof. dr. C.U. Greven

Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Children With ADHD and Their Parents

Care-as-usual for the management of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children has limitations and many families experience remaining impairment after treatment. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are promising in reducing ADHD-related impairment because they target self-regulation (attention control, emotion regulation and self-awareness), and family MBI additionally targets parenting and parental (mental) health. Using relatively rigorous quantitative and qualitative research methods, this thesis aims to increase our understanding of the applicability and effects of mindfulness in treatment of children with ADHD.
First, our results based on data from a large twin study indicate that ADHD and mindfulness as traits involve phenotypically and genetically largely distinct aspects of attentional functioning, and both uniquely affect life satisfaction. Second, we studied the effectiveness of an 8-week group-based family MBI (MYmind) for children (8-16 years) with remaining ADHD symptoms after prior treatment and their parents. We found that providing MYmind in addition to care-as-usual did not outperform care-as-usual alone in reducing child self-control deficits on a group level (primary outcome). However, a relevant proportion of children did show meaningful short-term benefits, and larger and more durable effects were found in parents. Third, interviews with children with ADHD, their parents and mindfulness teachers showed that MYmind can lead to a variety of transferable positively perceived effects beyond child’s ADHD-symptom reduction. Further, we provided recommendations on MYmind participant inclusion, programme characteristics, mindfulness teachers and evaluating treatment efficacy. This thesis shows that an MBI can be a valuable addition to current evidence-based care for families with a child with ADHD.