Reducing impulsivity in repeat violent offenders using a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) – the REINVESt study

Strands Project Theme
Project Description

Violence is a leading cause of death and injury worldwide and a large percentage of prison inmates have histories of violent offending.Between 1996 and 2006, violent crimes (homicide, assault, sexual assault, robbery) in Australia rose by 30%.  While just under half of those convicted for violent offences such as assault (44%) and robbery (47%) return to prison within two years.  Numerous studies suggest a strong association between poor impulse control (impulsivity) and crime, including violent crime.  There is strong evidence from animal and human studies, pharmacological, imaging, and receptor sub-typing research of a relationship between serotonergic dysfunction and aggression and impulsivity.  While violence and offending behaviour are complex issues, the biological, behavioural, psychiatric, criminological and pharmacological evidence provides compelling support for the role of serotonin dysfunction in impulsive-violence.  The REINVESt study aims to examine the effectiveness of an SSRI (sertraline) in reducing recidivism and other behaviours (e.g. impulsivity, irritability, anger & aggression) among impulsive-violent offenders.

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