Pharmacotherapy of conduct disorder: Challenges, options and future directions

Jessica L. Hambly, Sohil Khan, Brett McDermott, William Bor, Alison Haywood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


There is a critical need for evaluation of the pharmacotherapies used in conduct disorder (CD), due to the high incidence of off-label prescribing. The aim of this review was to identify concerns associated with the safety, efficacy and impact on quality of life (QOL) that pharmacotherapy has in children and adolescents with CD. A systematic review was undertaken using pre-defined search criteria and four databases, including reference searches. We assessed these studies using the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy, Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation, and Review Manager Risk of Bias (RevMan®) tools. There were 12 randomised controlled trials that met our inclusion criteria. Studies included: antipsychotics, atomoxetine, lithium, clonidine, divalproex sodium and psychostimulants. The antipsychotics demonstrated efficacy, but were associated with adverse effects. Other agents demonstrated mixed responses, highlighting the lack of clinical significance and increased incidence of adverse effects. The management of related adverse effects was addressed to assist with clinical gaps. Overall, there is limited evidence regarding the role of pharmacotherapy in CD. More research is needed that takes into account the heterogeneity of CD and analysis of pharmacotherapy in pure CD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-975
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 01-10-2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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