Does Methylphenidate Improve Academic Performance? A Systematic Review and Meta‑analysis

Anne Fleur Kortekaas-Rijlaarsdam*, Marjolein Luman, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, J. Oosterlaan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Academic improvement is amongst the most common treatment targets when prescribing stimulants to children with ADHD.Previous reviews on stimulant-related academic improvements are inconclusive and focus on task engagement. Recentliterature suggests outcome-domain-specific medication effects that are larger for productivity than for accuracy. The aimsof this study are quantifying methylphenidate effects on academic productivity and accuracy for math, reading, spelling;exploring the mediating or moderating effects of symptom improvements, demographic-, design- and disorder-related variables.PubMed, EMBASE, ERIC and PsycINFO were searched for articles reporting methylphenidate effects on academicproductivity and accuracy. Thirty-four studies met entry criteria. Methylphenidate improved math productivity (7.8% increase,p < .001); math accuracy (3.0% increase, p = .001); increased reading speed (SMD .47, p < .001) but not reading accuracy.None of the mediators or moderators tested affected methylphenidate efficacy. Academic improvements were small comparedto symptom improvements; qualitative changes limited to math. Clinicians should take this discrepancy into account whenprescribing medication for ADHD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • ADHD · Methylphenidate · Academic · Math · Reading · Meta-analysis


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