Clinical Implications From the Treatment of Severe Childhood Aggression (TOSCA) Study: A Re-Analysis and Integration of Findings

Justin A. Barterian, L. Eugene Arnold, Nicole V. Brown, Cristan A. Farmer, Craig Williams, Robert L. Findling, David J. Kolko, Oscar G. Bukstein, Brooke S.G. Molina, Lisa Townsend, Michael G. Aman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective The Treatment of Severe Childhood Aggression (TOSCA) project examined augmentation of stimulant treatment and parent training (PT) with risperidone for severe physical aggression. This article summarizes the clinical implications; reanalyzes the data to examine the utility of 4 criteria for deciding to augment; and presents a treatment algorithm. Method The newly analyzed 4 criteria for augmenting after 3 weeks of stimulant and PT treatment consisted of not meeting a Clinical Global Impressions–Improvement (CGI-I) score of 1 and a normal score (≤15) on the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form Disruptive–Total (D-Total); a CGI-I score of 1 or 2 plus 25% improvement in D-Total score; a D-Total score no higher than 15; and a CGI-Severity score of 3 (mild) or better. Effect sizes were calculated. Prior TOSCA publications were reviewed for clinically relevant findings. Results All 4 criteria resulted in medium or better effect sizes (d = 0.59–0.72) when comparing risperidone with placebo. Providing risperidone to children who did not reach a CGI-I score of 1 plus a D-Total score no higher than 15 resulted in the greatest benefit. In addition, a review of clinically relevant data suggests that stimulant plus PT shows further improvement after 3 weeks even without augmentation. Conclusion For those children who did not attain a CGI-I score of 1 and a D-total score no higher than 15, adding risperidone maximized the number of children benefitting from treatment and the average amount of benefit. Unless clinical circumstances dictate otherwise, practitioners should delay an antipsychotic drug for at least 1 month after the optimal stimulant dose is achieved and PT has commenced. Clinical trial registration information–Treatment of Severe Childhood Aggression (The TOSCA Study);; NCT00796302.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1033
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • disruptive behavior disorders
  • parent training
  • physical aggression
  • psychostimulants
  • risperidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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