Current pharmacotherapy options for conduct disorders in adolescents and children

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2019 Apr;20(5):571-583. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2018.1561862. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


Introduction: Conduct disorder (CD) is a common mental health disorder of childhood and adolescence. CD's complexity, with its heterogenous clinical manifestations and overlapping comorbidities makes the application of evidence-based management approaches challenging. This article aims to combine a systematic review of the available literature, with a consensus opinion from both child and adolescent psychiatrists and developmental pediatricians on the clinical and pharmacological management of children and adolescents with conduct disorder (CD).

Areas covered: The authors review the CD population and provide a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness and safety of pharmacotherapies using preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis (PRISMA) and strength of evidence recommendation taxonomy (SORT) guidelines. The authors then provide an expert clinical opinion for the use of different pharmacotherapies to address aggressive and disruptive behavior in children.

Expert opinion: Atypical antipsychotics (e.g. risperidone) demonstrate evidence for efficacy in CD. Other pharmacotherapies (e.g. mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, psychostimulants and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) have a low level of evidence for CD alone, however, can sometimes be effective in managing the symptoms of CD when other psychiatric disorders are also present.

Keywords: Atypical antipsychotics; adolescents; children; conduct disorders; pharmacotherapy; risperidone.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / drug effects
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Antimanic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Risperidone / therapeutic use


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antimanic Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Risperidone