Self-injurious behaviour and people with intellectual disabilities: Assessing the behavioural knowledge and causal explanations of care staff

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The Self-Injury Behavioural Understanding Questionnaire (SIBUQ) is a 27-item multiple response format questionnaire developed to examine the adoption of a behavioural perspective on self-injurious behaviour (SIB). The questionnaire comprises three subscales (Knowledge, Action and Causal Explanation) to which there are six response types designed to elucidate types of causal explanations and likely responses to SIB given particular scenarios. Test-retest reliability of the total score and response types within subscales is acceptable for most response types. The questionnaire was administered to four groups: contact (individuals in close contact with someone showing SIB), hospital staff (individuals in close contact with people with intellectual disabilities but not necessarily SIB), behavioural unit (individuals working on a unit for children with challenging behaviour which adopted a behavioural perspective) and behaviourally trained (individuals with formal qualifications in a behavioural approach to challenging behaviour). Comparisons between groups revealed significant differences on the total score, and all subscales. Post hoc analysis revealed that the contact group scored significantly lower than all other groups on all subscales. This group were also significantly more likely to choose a response which would reinforce SIB when considering what action to take and were more likely to impute an internal emotional type of causal explanation. An examination of the correlations between subscales revealed significant negative correlations between behavioural knowlege and the likelihood of choosing a reinforcing response and imputing internal emotional causal explanations. These findings suggest that the dissemination of a behavioural perspective to those in close contact with people who show SIB has not occurred. The implications of this conclusion are discussed with reference to the prevention and treatment of SIB.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996