Noncontingent attention for the treatment of excessive medical complaints in a medically fragile man with mental retardation

Louis P. Hagopian, Linda A. LeBlanc, Kristen A. Maglieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Providing medical care to individuals with developmental disabilities who have medical problems may pose several challenges with regard to accurate and reliable report of symptoms. In addition, medical complaints may take on operant functions such as an attention function or an escape function as a result of the natural consequences in the environment. It may be difficult to withhold reinforcers for medical complaints such as attention or escape, making a standard analog functional analysis or extinction-based intervention less appropriate. Recent studies have shown that noncontingent reinforcement without extinction and noncontingent reinforcement using alternative reinforcers can be effective in reducing problem behavior. One practical implication of these findings is that noncontingent reinforcement may be an appropriate treatment in cases where the reinforcer responsible for behavioral maintenance cannot be identified or withheld. In the current study, attention served as a reinforcer for a young man with medical complaints and noncontingent attention without ignoring effectively reduced the participant's excessive medical complaints. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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