A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of fluoxetine for repetitive behaviors and global severity in adult autism spectrum disorders

Eric Hollander, Latha Soorya, William Chaplin, Evdokia Anagnostou, Bonnie P. Taylor, Casara J. Ferretti, Stacey Wasserman, Erika Swanson, Cara Settipani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

106 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The effects of fluoxetine and placebo on repetitive behaviors and global severity were compared in adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Method: Adults with ASDs were enrolled in a 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled fluoxetine trial. Thirty-seven were randomly assigned to fluoxetine (N=22) or placebo (N=15). Dosage followed a fixed schedule, starting at 10 mg/day and increasing as tolerated up to 80 mg/ day. Repetitive behaviors were measured with the compulsion subscale of the Yale- Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale; the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) improvement scale was used to rate improvement in obsessive-compulsive symptoms and overall severity. Results: There was a significant treatment-by- time interaction indicating a significantly greater reduction in repetitive behaviors across time for fluoxetine than for placebo. With overall response defined as a CGI global improvement score of 2 or less, there were significantly more responders at week 12 in the fluoxetine group than in the placebo group. The risk ratio was 1.5 for CGI global improvement (responders: fluoxetine, 35%; placebo, 0%) and 1.8 for CGI-rated improvement in obsessive-compulsive symptoms (responders: fluoxetine, 50%; placebo, 8%). Only mild and moderate side effects were observed. Conclusions: Fluoxetine treatment, compared to placebo, resulted in significantly greater improvement in repetitive behaviors, according to both the Yale-Brown compulsion subscale and CGI rating of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, as well as on the CGI overall improvement rating. Fluoxetine appeared to be well tolerated. These findings stand in contrast to findings in a trial of citalopram for childhood autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-299
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume169
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Hollander, E., Soorya, L., Chaplin, W., Anagnostou, E., Taylor, B. P., Ferretti, C. J., Wasserman, S., Swanson, E., & Settipani, C. (2012). A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of fluoxetine for repetitive behaviors and global severity in adult autism spectrum disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(3), 292-299. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.10050764