Reducing impulsivity in repeat violent offender using a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

Date Commenced:
Project Status
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters

NHMRC Partnership Grant

Currently recruiting
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About the Project

Randomised control trial of an intervention to reduce impulsivity in those with histories of violence and repeated contact with the criminal justice systemz2185283


Serotonergic dysfunction in the brain is linked to impulsive behaviour, and impulsivity is linked to offending behaviour, including violent offending.  Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants that aim to regulate serotonin metabolism in the brain. It is hypothesised that by regulating serotonin metabolism this will reduce impulsivity and thus lead to improved offending outcomes.


Undertake a trial of an SSRI versus placebo in a sample of community-based offedners.

Design & Method

Double blind, placebo controlled, randomised control trial


Currently undergoing ethics approvals


Demonstrate that the intervention works with impulsive violent offenders.


Pilot study publication

Project Members
image - 1338431618 Tony Butler
Professor and Program Head
Ph +61 2 9385 9257
Other Investigators

A/Professor Peter Schofield (Hunter New England Health & Newcastle University);  Professor David Greenberg (Justice Health NSW);  A/Professor Don Weatherburn (NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research);  Professor Kay Wilhelm (St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney);  Professor Vaughan Carr (Schizophrenia Research Centre, UNSW);  Professor Catherine D’Este (University of Newcastle);  Professor Phil Mitchell (School of Psychiatry, UNSW);   Prof Alison Jones (School of Medicine, University of Wollongong);  Professor Val Gebski (NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Sydney University);  Professor Tony Keech (NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Sydney University);  Dr Devon Indig (Justice Health NSW);  Professor Rodney Scott (Hunter New England Health & Newcastle University); Ms Jocelyn Jones (National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University);  Mr Luke Grant (Corrective Services NSW);  Ms Carolynn Dixon (Justice Health NSW);  Ms Alison Churchill (CRC Justice Support);  Dr Steven Allnutt (Justice Health NSW);  Lee Knight (Justice Health NSW);  Dr Andrew Ellis (Justice Health NSW)

Project Collaborators: External

Hunter New England Health

School of Psychiatry (University of New South Wales)

Justice Health NSW

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Schizophrenia Research Centre (University of New South Wales)

St Vincent’s Hospital; (Sydney)

University of Newcastle

NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre

Corrective Services NSW

National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University)

School of Medicine (University of Wollongong)

CRC Justice Support

Project Contacts

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