Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #27
CE Offered: BACB
Further Evaluation of Indirect and Direct Methods of Functional Assessment
Saturday, May 27, 2006
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Centennial Ballroom IV
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cynthia M. Anderson (University of Oregon)
CE Instructor: Cynthia M. Anderson, Ph.D.

Practitioners interested in conduting a pre-intervention functional assessment are faced with the daunting challenge of identifying a method that will be useful in a given setting and with a given population. The difficulty they are faced with has only increased in recent years as the number of functional assessment methods available in journals and on the world wide web has exploded. In this symposium we explore questions related to reliability, validity, and treatment utility of indirect and direct methods of functional assessment.

Current Status of Validity Data for the QABF (Questions About Behavioral Function).
THEODOSIA R. PACLAWSKYJ (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Johnny L. Matson (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Ruth M. DeBar (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Mary-Claire Brett (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: A persistent challenge for clinicians in applied settings who work with individuals with developmental disabilities and maladaptive behaviors is to reconcile the need for efficacious assessment and treatment development with the knowledge that functional assessment questionnaires are not guaranteed to produce an accurate or valid outcome. Most ABA practitioners are aware of the fact that functional analyses conducted via analog sessions demonstrate the greatest validity and experimental control. However, in too many cases clinicians lack the resources necessary to conduct such analyses, whether due to time, personnel, or workload factors. Therefore, further efforts at validation of a functional assessment checklist remain critical. In the current paper, we present the comparison data between the outcomes of the QABF and functional analysis sessions and compare these outcomes to treatment data. Patient data for 90 cases in which a function-based treatment was successfully implemented were reviewed retrospectively. Agreement between the QABF and functional analysis outcome was modest (mean across subscales=64%). Results are discussed in terms of identifying the limiting conditions for use of the QABF in clinical settings.
Agreement between Teachers and Students on Function of Student Problem Behavior as Indicated in Brief Functional Behavioral Assessment Interviews.
KENT MCINTOSH (University of Oregon), Robert H. Horner (University of Oregon)
Abstract: This paper describes results from a study comparing data obtained from brief functional behavioral assessment interviews. Participants were 50 general and special education students in 4th, 5th and 6th grades with chronic problem behavior and their teachers. Each teacher participated in a brief functional behavioral assessment interview, during which a summary statement (identification of problem behavior, antecedents and function) was generated. Students were then provided with a summary statement with the function information omitted and were asked to provide a function for their problem behavior. Results indicated moderate agreement between sources, with several factors influencing the level of agreement. Such factors will be discussed in relation to increasing the accuracy of functional behavioral assessments completed in regular school settings.
Descriptive and Experimental Analyses of Potential Precursors to Problem Behavior.
CARRIE S. W. BORRERO (University of Florida & Spectrum Center, Inc.), John C. Borrero (University of the Pacific), Andrew R. Weiher (Spectrum Center, Inc.)
Abstract: We conducted a descriptive analysis of severe problem behavior for an individual with developmental disabilities in order to identify potential precursors to problem behavior. After identifying potential precursors, we compared the unconditional probability of the precursor to the conditional probability of the precursor given problem behavior. We then conducted functional analyses of both the problem behavior and precursor to determine if both were reinforced by the same events. Results of the descriptive analysis demonstrated that the probability of the precursor was greater given problem behavior than the unconditional probability of the precursor, and suggested that the response may be a precursor to problem behavior. In addition, results of the functional analyses demonstrated that both problem behavior and the precursor were reinforced by access to tangible items and escape from instructional demands. The method may be useful for determining the extent to which one response precedes problem behavior and whether precursors and problem behavior are members of the same (or different) response classes.
Psychometric Properties of the Questions About Behavioral Function Scale in a Pediatric Population.
KURT A. FREEMAN (Oregon Health Sciences University), Michael Walker (Oregon Health Sciences University), Jeremy Kaufman (Oregon Health Sciences University)
Abstract: The Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF) scale is a caregiver report form designed to identify behavioral functions of aberrant behavior. Previous research regarding the psychometric properties of this instrument has been conducted with adults, largely in residential settings. Because of this, the goal of the present investigation was to evaluate psychometric properties of the QABF in an outpatient pediatric population. Ninety-one children between the ages of 2 and 18 with developmental delays and aberrant behavior (e.g., physical aggression, self-injury, property destruction) participated. All participants were seen in an outpatient behavioral assessment clinic operated through a medical university hospital. One caregiver (i.e., parent or legal guardian) completed the QABF and Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) focused on one problematic behavior identified in a pre-appointment interview for each child. Results indicate that the QABF exhibited fair to good internal consistency, acceptable inter-subscale correlations, and convergent validity with the MAS. Current results extend the literature on the QABF by demonstrating acceptable psychometric properties with a pediatric population evaluated in an outpatient setting. Available data suggest that the QABF may be a viable functional assessment tool for use in situations in which more experimentally rigorous functional assessment procedures (e.g., analog functional analysis) are not feasible.



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