Imipramine compliance in adolescents

Gail A. Bernstein, Lesley K. Anderson, Joel M. Hektner, George M. Realmuto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate side effects, medication compliance, and assumption of medication assignment in adolescents taking imipramine versus placebo in a clinical trial. Method: Sixty-three anxious-depressed adolescents in an 8-week double-blind study of imipramine versus placebo, each in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy for school refusal, were evaluated. Measures of side effects, global improvement, family functioning, medication compliance based on pill counts, and guesses of drug assignment (imipramine versus placebo) were analyzed. Results: Mean side effects ratings were significantly higher for the imipramine group compared with the placebo group (p = .001). Side effects were not associated with noncompliance or with dropping out. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in the adolescents was significantly associated with medication noncompliance (p = .036). On the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II (FACES II), low family adaptability (i.e., rigidity), low family cohesion (i.e., disengagement), and extreme family type were significantly associated with greater noncompliance with medications. Accuracy rates for guessing medication assignment (imipramine versus placebo) were 66% for subjects, 62.5% for mothers, and 79.5% for the psychiatrist. Logistic regression demonstrated that side effects (p = .005) and global improvement scores (p = .06) predicted the psychiatrist's guesses of drug assignment. Conclusions: Side effects were not associated with noncompliance. Nonadherence with taking medications was associated with ODD in the adolescents and problematic family functioning on FACES II. The psychiatrist, who was blind to treatment condition, guessed the subjects' medication assignments with high accuracy. Thus, because of expectancy bias, the data support the use of blind independent evaluators for rating changes in medication trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by NIMH grant R29 MH46534 to Dr. Bernstein. Imipramine and placebo were provided by Biocraft Laboratories, Inc., and pill containers by Apothecary Products, Inc.® The authors acknowledge Lois Laitinen, M.B.A., M.M., for manuscript preparation.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Compliance
  • Imipramine
  • Psychopharmacology


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