Canadian guidelines for the evidence-based treatment of tic disorders: behavioural therapy, deep brain stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation

Can J Psychiatry. 2012 Mar;57(3):144-51. doi: 10.1177/070674371205700303.


This clinical guideline provides recommendations for nonpharmacological treatments for tic disorders. We conducted a systematic literature search for clinical trials on the treatment of tics. One evidence-based review (including 30 studies) and 3 studies on behavioural interventions, 3 studies on deep brain stimulation (DBS), and 3 studies on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) met our inclusion criteria. Based on this evidence, we have made strong recommendations for the use of habit reversal therapy and exposure and response prevention, preferably embedded within a supportive, psychoeducational program, and with the option to combine either of these approaches with pharmacotherapy. Although evidence exists for the efficacy of DBS, the quality of this evidence is poor and the risks and burdens of the procedure are finely balanced with the perceived benefits. Our recommendation is that this intervention continues to be considered an experimental treatment for severe, medically refractory tics that have imposed severe limitations on quality of life. We recommend that the procedure should only be performed within the context of research studies and by physicians expert in DBS programming and in the management of tics. There is no evidence to support the use of TMS in the treatment of tics. However, the procedure is associated with a low rate of known complications and could continue to be evaluated within research protocols. The recommendations we provide are based on current knowledge, and further studies may result in their revision in future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Canada
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Tic Disorders / therapy*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*