The study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center was conducted in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, Stony Brook University in New York and Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.
For the "Treatment of Severe Childhood Aggression (TOSCA) Study," 168 children ages 6 to 12 who had been diagnosed with ADHD and displayed significant physical aggression were divided into two groups.
All study participants received a psychostimulant drug called OROS methylphenidate and their parents received behavioural parent training for nine weeks. The researchers called this treatment combination "basic" because both are evidence-based and have been shown to be helpful for improving both ADHD and aggression.
Compared to the "basic group," the "augmented group" who received the stimulant drug and parent training plus risperidone showed significant improvement (on average with moderately better behavior) on the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form (NCBRF) Disruptive-Total Scale, the NCBRF Social Competence subscale and the Reactive Aggression part of the Antisocial Behavior Scale.
While there is always some risk with the addition of a second drug to the treatment package, the two drugs seemed to neutralize some of each other's potential side effects. For instance, children in the augmented group did not seem to have as much trouble falling asleep, once the risperidone was added, Aman said.
The study was published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.