Staff in services for people with Intellectual disabilities: The impact of stress on attributions and challenging behaviour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Background There is a lack of a conceptual framework as to how stress and attribution variables interact and influence staff behaviour in response to challenging behaviour. To address this, a model is tested examining the impact of stress on attributions of challenging behaviour within Weiner's model of helping. Method A total of 107 staff working in community homes for people with intellectual disabilities completed a self-report questionnaire that measured stress, burnout, attributions, emotions, optimism and helping behaviour in response to challenging behaviour. Results Partial support was found for the role of attributions and emotions. However, although staff reported high stress levels and moderate burnout, this did not appear to relate to their reporting of thoughts and feelings regarding challenging behaviour predicted by Weiner's helping model. It was not possible to fully test the helping model, as the 'help' variable was not normally distributed. Conclusions There was little evidence to suggest that stress has a primary role in determining staff responses when examined within Weiner's model of helping. Limited support in general was offered for Weiner's helping model. Potential conceptual difficulties and clinical implications are explored and alternative models for future research are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-838
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005


  • staff, emotions, challenging behaviour, stress, attributions