Objectivity, accountability, replicability, verifiability: these are a sample of the cornerstones of the science of behaviour analysis. As a field, we emphasize developing direct measurement systems to promote accountability. These systems may add value across client services and service delivery models that may not always incorporate direct measurement protocols. For example, my co-investigator and I developed a program evaluation tool, guided by behavior analytic measurement practices, to examine how well services align with respective best-practice recommendations in a government-funded service supporting adults with acquired brain injury. Direct measurement systems may also add substantial value to psychopharmacology in treating challenging behavior in individuals with disabilities (e.g., intellectual and developmental disabilities; acquired brain injury). In fact, recent literature has concluded medication monitoring processes in this context are poor or non-existent. Clients often receive concurrent, but separate, psychopharmacological and behavioural interventions. In some cases, psychiatry and behaviour analysts working together. These relatively rare arrangements present behavior analysts with an opportunity to promote systematic data collection to efficiently identify medication impact on behavior (e.g., adaptive, maladaptive), including side effects. Unfortunately, behavior analysts do not often receive formal training relevant to psychotropic medications. Promoting behavior analysis as a valuable component in the context of psychopharmacological intervention means having behavior analysts well-trained in this area. One step towards this goal may be to establish an evidence-based training protocol enabling behavior analysts to perform effectively when collaboration opportunities arises. I will describe a research project exploring the clinical utility and feasibility of a Medications Guidelines Tool and training for behavior analysts.
Dr. Alison Cox received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Manitoba. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral. Throughout her Ph.D., Dr. Cox was involved in a variety of research initiatives ranging from developing measures to reliably identify preference in individuals with profound multiple disabilities to teaching children and adolescents with autism to successfully undergo MRI procedures. As an Assistant Professor in the Applied Disability Studies program at Brock University her research interests continue to be diverse. However, her primary interests lay in behavioral medicine, including examining the effects of psychotropic medication on behaviour. Through her current and past research and clinical experiences Dr. Cox has developed specific expertise in assessing and treating severe challenging behaviour in individuals with dual diagnosis and acquired brain injury, supporting skill acquisition in individuals with dual diagnosis and autism, and supervising early intensive behavioural intervention programs. Dr. Cox has presented her work at international and national conferences, is published in several prominent behaviour analytic journals, and serves as a peer-reviewer across a range of journals in the disabilities field. Finally, Dr. Cox currently serves on the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA) Adult Task Force and recently co-authored a best-practice guidelines document entitled Evidence-based Practices for Individuals with Challenging Behaviour: Recommendations for Caregiver, Practitioners, and Policy Makers.