Meta analysis of treatments for self injurious behaviour finds statistically significant effects

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Recognising that self injurious behaviour in people with profound and multiple disabilities usually has important negative consequences for people concerned, this meta-analysis set out to examine the effectiveness of the treatments currently being offered.
The authors looked at single-case studies which investigated non-aversive, non-intrusive forms of reinforcement, combining these using hierarchical linear models.

They discovered that the average effect of treatment was relatively large and statistically significant. They also found significant variance between studies and participants. They suggest that there was some evidence for a moderator effect of sensory impairment.

They could find no statistically significant moderator effects of medication, motor impairment, setting, age, gender, matching of treatment with behavioural function and contingency.

Self-injurious behavior in people with profound intellectual disabilities: A meta-analysis of single-case studies, Denisa J et al in Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 3, 911-923

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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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