The behavioral problems characteristic of people who have cognitive disabilities or autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with severe behavioral problems are often due to multiple factors, including the suitability of the environment for the person’s capacity to adapt. To handle crisis situations, people with the mentioned disorders are usually heavily medicated when they live in institutions or stay in hospitals. However, psychotropic drugs do not always prove effective at stemming behavioral problems. If the medication is not targeted at a clearly identified psychiatric symptomology, it can cause significant side effects (weight gain, cognitive disorders, increased morbidity/mortality). The collateral effects of certain psychotropic drugs, especially when they are administered long term, are little understood or unknown, and even less when combined with antiepilepsy drugs, painkillers, or tranquilizers. Research on the subject is uncommon in Switzerland and worldwide, and results are incomplete.



The project is to conduct a pharmacological-psychiatric study to analyze the medications administered to people with cognitive disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their collateral effects on behavior in the mid and long term. This study will be run at institutions in Geneva that house people with disabilities and could be extended to daycare centers or outside the canton.

This project exists through the support of a private foundation in the field of mental disabilities that would like to remain anonymous.


project managers

Dr. Marie Besson, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Division, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology, and Intensive Care, Geneva University Hospitals
Dr. Markus Kosel, Psychiatric Specialties Division, Department of Mental Health and Psychiatry, Geneva University Hospitals