Social skills training for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged 5 to 18 years

Cochrane Review Update (published June 2019). This review updates a review previously published in 2011.

The review assessed the beneficial and harmful effects of social skills training in children and adolescents with ADHD. 


25 studies with 2690 participants (aged 5 to 17 years old) comparing social skills training with no intervention or wait-list control. In 17 trials, participants were also diagnosed with various comorbidities. 

For participants aged 5 to 17 years old, the reviewers were uncertain whether social skills training improved: parent- and teacher-rated social skills and ADHD symptoms; teacher-rated emotional competencies; parent-rated general behaviour (all very low certainty evidence). They also reported that social skills training may have little or no difference on teacher-rated general behaviour (low certainty evidence). 

Two studies assessed harms and did not report any serious or non-serious adverse events. 

The evidence is current to 2018.


The reviewers concluded that there is little evidence to support or refute social skills training for children and adolescents with ADHD.  The evidence base regarding adolescents is especially weak.

Read the full review on The Cochrane Library