Assessing the Validity of Engagement-Based and Selection-Based Preference Assessments in Elderly Individuals With Neurocognitive Disorder

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The majority of the preference assessment literature focuses on applications with children and adults with developmental disabilities. To date, relatively few studies have focused on research related to preference and reinforcer assessments with the elderly population with cognitive impairment, despite the need for programmed access to preferred and reinforcing stimuli (Raetz, LeBlanc, Baker, & Hilton, 2013). This study assessed the predictive validity of engagement- and selection-based preference assessment formats with 2 types of reinforcer assessments: engagement-based and task-based. Three older adults, who attended an adult day program and who had a formal diagnosis of neurocognitive disorder, participated in the study. The first participant’s most preferred items in the each preference assessment were validated in both reinforcer assessments. The second participant’s most preferred items from each preference assessment were validated with the engagement-based reinforcer assessment, but the task-based assessment produced variable responding. The third participant’s most preferred items from the MSWO were validated with both reinforcer assessments, but the most preferred item from the FO was validated with only the engagement-based reinforcer assessment. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for preference and reinforcer assessments and their utility with the population of elderly adults with cognitive impairments.

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