Planning deficits in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A meta-analytic review of tower task performance.

Objective: Deficient planning is commonly observed among children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is associated with several adverse outcomes. The current meta-analysis expands on previous reviews by examining performance and latency metrics across five tower planning task variants, in addition to applying metaregression techniques to examine potential moderating effects. Method: Forty-one studies (NADHD = 2,051; NTD = 2,766) provided sufficient information to calculate between-group effect sizes and were included in the current study. Results: Results revealed moderate-magnitude planning deficits exhibited by children with ADHD, ranging from Hedge’s g of 0.36 to 0.59. Analysis of latency metrics revealed small- to moderate-magnitude between-groups differences (Hedge’s g ranging from −0.42 to 0.41), such that children with ADHD responded more quickly on planning tasks when compared with typically developing peers. Age, percentage of females, solution presentation (e.g., pictorial vs. physical display), and task complexity (beads vs. disks) were identified as statistically significant moderating variables across planning metrics. Conclusions: Although aggregated findings suggest that children with ADHD, compared with typically developing children, exhibit moderate planning deficits, researchers and clinicians are advised to consider our findings of significant participant and task moderating variables when interpreting children’s performance on tower tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)