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Narrative overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses: evidence on many treatments for psychopathology in people with developmental disabilities is limited

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Question: What treatments are effective for psychopathology in people with developmental disabilities?

Outcomes: Effect of treatments for psychopathology.


Design: Narrative overview summarising systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Data sources: Not stated.

Study selection and analysis: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of pharmacological, psychosocial and other treatments for people with intellectual disabilities (ID), autism or developmental disabilities (DD) were included.

Main results

Applied behaviour analysis

The author reports that meta-analyses have found applied behaviour analysis (ABA) to be effective or promising for pica, fear, phobic avoidance and self-injurious behaviour, and to be an evidence-based practice for maladaptive behaviour and psychiatric disorders in people with mild disabilities (study types included in these analyses were not reported). One systematic review assessing treatments for phobic avoidance for people with ID was described, which did not find any randomised controlled trials (RCTs) meeting inclusion criteria. No formal systematic reviews or meta-analyses of behavioural treatment for psychotic behaviour or depression in people with DD were identified. Other non-drug interventions: sensory integration therapy was not found to be effective in one meta-analysis of ‘well-controlled studies’ …

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  • Sources of funding: Canadian Psychiatric Association.


  • Competing interests None.

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