Sertraline Pediatric Registry for the Evaluation of Safety: Design and Clinical Characteristics of Pediatric Patients Prescribed Sertraline

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2021 Aug;31(6):411-420. doi: 10.1089/cap.2020.0170. Epub 2021 Jul 21.


Objectives: To describe the study design and clinical characteristics of patients in the Sertraline Pediatric RegIstry for The Evaluation of Safety (SPRITES). Methods: SPRITES is an open-label postmarketing study of development and safety outcomes in patients aged 6 to 16 years treated with sertraline (with or without psychotherapy) compared with psychotherapy alone for up to 3 years in the United States. Baseline data included demographics and psychiatric history. Primary outcomes included measures of cognitive and emotional development (Trails B, Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function [BRIEF]), physical development (height and weight), and pubertal status (Tanner Stage). Data were also collected on present/lifetime risk of suicide-related events using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Results: SPRITES enrolled 941 patients between the ages of 6 and 16 years. Patients' baseline mean age was 11.9 years (2.9), 57.2% were female, and 84.8% were white. Most patients (78.4%) had an anxiety disorder, and 15.6% were diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The mean age at onset of first mental illness was 7.9 years. A higher percentage of sertraline-treated patients compared with patients who received no pharmacological treatment received prior psychotherapy (59.0% vs. 34.4%, p < 0.001), psychotropic medications for a psychiatric disorder (14.1% vs. 3.3%, p < 0.001), and other non-sertraline selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (8.6% vs. 1.2%, p < 0.001). Most patients were moderately ill on the Clinical Global Impressions-Severity scale, and a higher (p < 0.001) percentage of sertraline-treated patients had a moderate-to-severe mental illness score compared with the no pharmacological treatment group (73.0% vs. 57.8%, respectively). Although patients at high and imminent risk of a suicidal event were excluded at study entry, the sertraline-treated patients reported higher levels of lifetime suicidal behavior compared with patients treated with no pharmacological treatment (5.8% vs. 2.5%, p = 0.039). Conclusions: Baseline data from this nonrandomized observational study suggest that patients prescribed sertraline are reflective of a more mentally ill study population compared with patients receiving psychotherapy. identifier: NCT01302080.

Keywords: SSRIs; developmental outcomes; long term; observational study; pediatric; sertraline.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Safety
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Registries
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Sertraline

Associated data