Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
Background: Currently no medication is approved to treat the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Nevertheless drug treatment is used as an adjunct therapy in autism targeting stereotypies, aggression, self-injurious behaviour and comorbid disorders. While there is some survey data on psychopharmacological intervention in autism in the United States, little is known about prescription practices in Germany. Objectives: The aim of this study was to survey the frequency and type of psychopharmacological intervention in a clinical sample of patients with autism spectrum disorders. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted identifying a clinical sample comprising 530 patients (412 male, 118 female) with autism spectrum disorders (408 with autism, 132 other ASD). The mean age was 12,2 years (SD= 7,6) and the mean IQ was 76,6 (SD= 29,0). Data about the history of past and present psychopharmacological interventions were collected from the medical records and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R). Results: 93.6 % of the patients have a history of psychopharmacological treatment. 28% of the sample received pharmacological treatment at the time of data collection (including alternative treatments and herbal remedies). The most frequently prescribed drugs were antipsychotics (12.1 %), stimulants (7.3 %) and anticonvulsants (4.9 %). The strongest predictor for the the prescription of medication was severity of general psychopathology (p= .001) followed by severity of the autistic symptomatology (p =.08). Age, gender, IQ, language development, adaptive functioning and the subtype of the autism diagnosis had no significant influence on the frequency of prescription. Conclusions: The results indicate a comparatively moderate prescription use of psychopharmacological agents in autism. With the antipsychotics as the leading prescription drug we find a substance class whose effectiveness has been well approved in several clinical studies. In contrast to surveys from the United States the use of antidepressants in autism spectrum disorders is less common.