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Children's National Receives Award from Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to Study New Behavioral Treatment for Low-Income Children with ADHD and Autism

WASHINGTON, DC – Children’s National Medical Center has been approved to receive a research award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study a new treatment for low-income children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study is part of a portfolio of projects that will advance the field of patient-centered comparative effectiveness research and provide patients with information that will help them make better-informed decisions about their care.

Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, Director of the , and Laura Anthony, PhD, the Center’s Associate Director, will lead the research project at the Children’s Research Institute of Children’s National Medical Center in collaboration with researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development. The three-year study will compare a new cognitive behavioral treatment to the best current treatment for improving executive function (EF) in low-income, school-age children with ADHD and ASD. EF helps regulate emotions, behaviors, and thinking. The research team will work with staff and parents of students at low-income schools in Washington, DC, and northern Virginia to gather input, implement the school-based study, and monitor results.

“This study will address the disparity of fewer choices and poorer outcomes for low-income children with ADHD or ASD,” said Dr. Kenworthy. “The new treatment program—Unstuck and On Target, which we developed at Children’s National in collaboration with our colleagues at Ivymount School—has been shown to improve problem-solving, executive function, and self-control in middle-class children with ASD, and now we hope to prove that it also offers low-income children a better solution.”
“Poverty is linked to greater executive function problems, and poor EF interferes with medical care, long-term health, schooling, and independent living,” said Dr. Anthony. “If the new treatment is successful, it will be the first evidence- and community-based EF treatment for low-income school-age children to targets skills that can help them be more successful in their daily lives.”

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and ultimately help patients and those who care for them make more fully informed decisions about their care,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH. “The project reflects PCORI’s commitment to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research, a new approach to health research that emphasizes the inclusion of patients and caregivers at all stages of the study process. We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with Children’s Research Institute to share the results.”

The Children’s Research Institute study is one of 71 projects totaling more than $114 million approved for funding by PCORI’s Board of Governors on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The awards were a mix of projects that included the first made  to studies specifically targeting improvement of research methods. All were selected through a highly competitive review process in which scientists, patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders helped to evaluate more than 570 proposals that responded to five PCORI funding announcements. 

Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, how well they engage patients and other stakeholders, their methodological rigor, and how well they fit within PCORI’s national research priorities. All awards were approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

The awards are part of PCORI’s latest round of primary research funding. Through previous funding cycles, including a round of pilot projects, and other initiatives, PCORI has committed a total of $304 million since 2012 to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research. For more information about PCORI funding, visit

Contact: Paula Darte or Emily Hartman, Children’s National Medical Center, 202-476-4500

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. More information is available at

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