Developing and Modifying Behavioral Coding Schemes in Pediatric Psychology: A Practical Guide

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Objectives To provide a concise and practical guide to the development, modification, and use of behavioral coding schemes for observational data in pediatric psychology. Methods This article provides a review of relevant literature and experience in developing and refining behavioral coding schemes. Results A step-by-step guide to developing and/or modifying behavioral coding schemes is provided. Major steps include refining a research question, developing or refining the coding manual, piloting and refining the coding manual, and implementing the coding scheme. Major tasks within each step are discussed, and pediatric psychology examples are provided throughout. Conclusions Behavioral coding can be a complex and time-intensive process, but the approach is invaluable in allowing researchers to address clinically relevant research questions in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

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