Importance: Few studies examining the use of peers during interventions have been published, and no systematic review has been conducted to evaluate the available literature.
Objective: To examine the effectiveness of social skills interventions incorporating peers for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to improve social interactions.
Data Sources: A search of five databases (CINAHL, PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and PsycINFO) produced 697 articles. Sixty-one were retrieved for full-text review, and 15 articles met inclusion criteria.
Study Selection and Data Collection: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were used to abstract data. Inclusion criteria: Participants younger than age 18 yr with any ADHD pattern, social skills interventions with peer involvement, outcome measures within the domain of occupational therapy, written in English, and involved a peer as the sole or primary component at some point in the social skills intervention. Exclusion criteria: Studies older than 20 yr or that used participants with comorbidities or multiple conditions.
Findings: Interventions incorporating both peer categories were effective for increasing play skills, reducing undesirable social behaviors (e.g., inappropriate verbalizations, dominant behaviors, aggression), and improving communication (e.g., pragmatic language, collaboration, joint participation) and social participation. Improvements were maintained over time, as evidenced by follow-up studies.
Conclusions and Relevance: Outcomes of these studies demonstrate moderate evidence that supports the use of social skills interventions incorporating peers for children with ADHD to improve social interactions, supporting their use by occupational therapists and the need for more studies.
What This Article Adds: This article provides guidance to occupational therapy practitioners on social skills intervention options for children with ADHD.