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Top-tier evidence on the safety/tolerability of 80 medications in children/adolescents with mental disorders has recently been reviewed in this jour­nal. To guide clinical practice, such data must be combined with evidence on efficacy and acceptability. Besides medications, psychosocial inter­ventions and brain stimulation techniques are treatment options for children/adolescents with mental disorders. For this umbrella review, we systematically searched network meta-analyses (NMAs) and meta-analyses (MAs) of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating 48 medications, 20 psychosocial interventions, and four brain stimulation techniques in children/adolescents with 52 different mental disorders or groups of mental disorders, reporting on 20 different efficacy/acceptability outcomes. Co-primary outcomes were disease-specific symptom reduction and all-cause discontinuation (“acceptability”). We included 14 NMAs and 90 MAs, reporting on 15 mental disorders or groups of mental disorders. Overall, 21 medications outperformed placebo regarding the co-primary outcomes, and three psychosocial interventions did so (while seven outperformed waiting list/no treatment). Based on the meta-analytic evidence, the most convincing efficacy profile emerged for amphetamines, methylphenidate and, to a smaller extent, behavioral therapy in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; aripiprazole, risperidone and several psychosocial interventions in autism; risperidone and behavioral interventions in disruptive behavior disorders; several antipsychotics in schizophrenia spectrum disorders; fluoxetine, the combination of fluoxetine and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and interpersonal therapy in depression; aripiprazole in mania; fluoxetine and group CBT in anxiety disorders; fluoxetine/selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, CBT, and behavioral therapy with exposure and response prevention in obsessive-compulsive disorder; CBT in post-traumatic stress disorder; imipramine and alarm behavioral intervention in enuresis; behavioral therapy in encopresis; and family therapy in anorexia nervosa. Results from this umbrella review of interventions for mental disorders in children/adolescents provide evidence-based information for clinical decision making.

Original publication




Journal article


World Psychiatry

Publication Date





244 - 275