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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #326
CE Offered: BACB
Large-Scale Analyses of Single-Case Design Research: Effects of NCR on Challenging Behavior and Function-Based Treatment of Elopement
Monday, May 26, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W187c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: David M. Richman (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: James E. Carr (Behavior Analyst Certification Board)
CE Instructor: Layla Abby, M.S.

One primary advantage of single-case design research is that it allows for demonstration of experimental control of the dependent variable via manipulation of the independent variable for individual participants. That is, single-case designs result in high degrees of confidence with regards to internal validity of the experimental findings, but generalization of these findings beyond the single participant are unknown pending replication of findings across additional participants and investigators. Behavior analysts often struggle to document the external validity of our findings by showing how well our treatments work for a relatively large number of people with similar characteristics. If behavior analysts are going to continue to contribute to the development of interventions that are labeled as evidence-based or empirically-supported best practices, we need to advance and refine our ability to assess the effect size of the interventions we already know work well for individual participants. The focus of this symposium will be on two examples analyzing (1) the effect size of noncontingent reinforcement on challenging behavior, and (2) large scale outcomes for function-based treatment of elopement.

Keyword(s): Elopment, Meta-analysis, Noncontingent reinforcement, Problem behavior
Meta-Analysis of Noncontingent Reinforcement Effects on Challenging Behavior
LAYLA ABBY (Texas Tech University), David M. Richman (Texas Tech University), Lucy Barnard-Brak (Texas Tech University), Laura Melton Grubb (Texas Tech University), Amanda Bosch (Sam Houston State University)
Abstract: Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) occurs when reinforcers are delivered independent of the target responses, and numerous single-case design studies have shown that it is an effective treatment for problem behavior. A meta-analysis of single-subject design data will permit researchers to quantitatively synthesize the results of published studies to enhance the evaluation of NCR as an empirically supported intervention. The current study utilized hierarchical linear modeling techniques to quantitatively analyze NCR via (1) documenting the effect size of NCR for decreasing challenging behavior, (2) assessing NCR effect size when functional reinforcers were used vs. highly preferred arbitrary reinforcers, and (3) documenting how schedule thinning affected the effect size of NCR. Of the 326 studies initially identified, 57 studies (with 91 participants) met inclusion criteria. Results suggest that (1) NCR resulted in a strong effect size (d = -1.58) for problem behavior, (2) treatments using functional reinforcers were slightly more effective than arbitrary reinforcers, and (3) thinning the schedule of reinforcement following stable treatment only slightly decreased the overall effect size of treatment (d = -1.34).

Clinical Outcomes for the Treatment of Elopement in Children with Developmental Disabilities

JESSICA ALVAREZ (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)

Elopement is typically defined as any instance in which an individual leaves a caregiver or designated area without permission (Bodfish, 1992). This behavior is extremely concerning because of the potentially lethal consequences, such as drowning or being struck by an automobile. The treatment literature is limited to a small number of studies and participants. In addition, the potential for publication bias makes it difficult to ascertain whether positive outcomes reported in that literature are representative of what can be expected in clinical settings. The present study attempted to address this gap in the literature by reviewing the records from a clinical program that specialized in the assessment and treatment of problem behavior, including elopement. All clients who were referred for the treatment of elopement that received a functional analysis of elopement (Piazza, Hanley, Bowman, Ruyter, Lindauer, & Saiontz, 1997) were included. Data from a total of 13 participants were analyzed for treatment outcomes. Across all clients a calculated Cohen's D effect size from the non-overlap of all pairs index (Parker & Vannest, 2009) equaled 2.01. Such results suggest that function-based interventions for elopement can be highly effective.




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