Staff knowledge found to be predictor of positive approaches in managing challenging behaviour


We have posted previously of the role of attributions in the way support staff respond to challenging behaviour, with studies looking at inconsistencies in responses and the impact of specific attributions on helping behaviour

The researchers in this Scottish based study were interested in exploring this further, and in particular looking at the extent to which the knowledge and attributions of support staff might predict their reported helping behaviour. They wanted to look at whether emotion regulation style might be one of the things that moderated the relationship between attributions and helping behaviour.

What they did was develop a questionnaire that was administered to 107 participants who supported adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. The questions asked the participants to report on their knowledge of the meaning and management of challenging behaviour, causal attributions and behavioural responses to the behaviour. There was also a recording of the emotion regulation style of the participants.

What they found was that knowledge and helpful attributions were significantly correlated with reported helping behaviour. They also carried out a regression analysis, a statistical technique used to examine the relationships between variables. What they found here was that it was only knowledge which significantly contributed to the variance. They found no moderating effect for the emotion regulation styles on the relationship between attributions and reported helping behaviour.

The authors conclude that knowledge was the only predictor of positive staff approaches in managing challenging behaviour. They suggest that their findings support the notion of staff training aimed at increasing knowledge, rather than changing attributions as a way of improving supports to people with learning disabilities.
Staff responses to behaviour that challenges: The role of knowledge, attributions, and emotion regulation style, Wishart J et al., in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 38, 3, 205-214

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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