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March

New psychometric measures for assessing challenging behaviour

Thursday 17 March 2011 

A team of researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King’s and New York University have successfully developed two new psychometric measures for assessing challenging behaviour in adults with Intellectual Disabilities (ID).

This development comes after an independent investigation into the reliability and validity of the Disability Assessment Schedule (DAS), one of the earliest, frequently employed and time-efficient rating instrument for assessing challenging behavior in adults with ID.

In an unexpected turn, the study revealed two statistically reliable and clinically important clusters of challenging behaviours in people with ID, which are: disruptive/ distractive problems specifically associated with severe ID; and anti-social/ delinquent problems associated with male gender, schizophrenia, hospital admission, and troubles with the police.

The sample consisted of a group of 568 adults with ID. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) criteria were applied for coding the level of ID and psychiatric diagnoses. Family and professional carers were asked to rate for each participant on a 3-point scale DAS behavioural problems, including but not exclusive to: being physically aggressive to others; being over-active; pacing up and down; does not sit still; pestering staff and others; self-injury; screaming or making other disturbing noises; and temper tantrums or verbal abuse.

Dr Tsakanikos from the Health Service and Population Research (HSPR) Department at the IoP and lead author of the study, said: ‘Apart from refining research methodology, these new psychometric measurements may also prove useful in the clinical assessment and management of individuals. The anti-social/ delinquent subscale may tap into more intensive needs, such as inpatient admissions and police contacts, whereas the disruptive/ distractive subscale may reflect problems related to practical, social and communication difficulties commonly experienced by patients with severe ID.’

‘Evidence suggests that certain types of challenging behaviour in adults with ID can predict specific treatment interventions, such as the use of anti-psychotic medication in the absence of schizophrenia, as well as hospital admission. These new measures may offer exiting new possibilities for both research and clinical practice.’

Psychometric properties of the Disability Assessment Schedule (DAS) for behaviour problems: An independent investigation’ is published in this month’s Research in Developmental Disabilities

The research took place at the Estia Centre, to read more, www.estiacentre.org

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