Evidence-based practices in intellectual disability and behaviour disorders

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To critically review the most recently published studies on the treatment of challenging behaviours/behaviour disorders for individuals with intellectual disability.

Recent findings

Literature published in the review period was from three traditions: applied behaviour analysis, psychopharmacology, and service evaluation. Applied behaviour analysis treatments have a large evidence base, and recent research has focused on refining issues such as dealing with low rate behaviours, improving generalization, the effects of choice-making, and setting event variables that may affect treatment outcomes. Recent interest in risperidone as a treatment for behaviour disorder has dominated the literature on pharmacological interventions. Several empirical studies support the use of risperidone in children, although a recent review is more sceptical of the quality of the evidence to date. A small number of service evaluation studies suggest in particular that applied behaviour analysis technologies can be scaled up to benefit large numbers of patients.

Summary

Applied behaviour analysis methods for the assessment and treatment of behaviour disorders continue to be the focus of research, and continue to result in positive outcomes. Recent data show the value of using applied behaviour analysis technologies as a service model for people with behaviour disorders. Pharmacological treatments, especially risperidone, also have a developing evidence base despite a lack of understanding of their mechanisms of action. A number of questions about behaviour disorders remain unanswered, especially whether early intervention may be effective and their putative relationship with psychiatric conditions.

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