Self-injurious behavior and the efficacy of naltrexone treatment: a quantitative synthesis
Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev
People with mental retardation, autism, and related developmental disabilities who self-injure are treated with a wide array of behavioral techniques and psychotropic medications. Despite numerous reports documenting short-term and some long-term changes in self-injury associated with the opiate antagonist naltrexone hydrochloride, no quantitative review of its efficacy has been reported. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of the peer-reviewed published literature from 1983 to 2003 documenting the use of naltrexone for the treatment of self-injurious behavior (SIB). Individual-level results were analyzed given subject and study characteristics. A sample of 27 research articles involving 86 subjects with self-injury was reviewed. Eighty percent of subjects were reported to improve relative to baseline (i.e., SIB reduced) during naltrexone administration and 47% of subjects SIB was reduced by 50% or greater. In studies reporting dose levels in milligrams, males were more likely than females to respond. No significant relations were found between treatment outcomes and autism status or form of self-injury. Results are discussed with respect to future efficacy work related to study outcomes and the pharmacological treatment of self-injury.
Keywords: efficacy, mental retardation, naltrexone, self-injurious behavior