Inter-rater Agreement of Three Functional Assessment Instruments Depending on the Frequency and Severity of the Target Behavior




Scurlock, Shannon

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In applied behavior analysis functional assessment refers to the process of identifying the contingencies (functions) that maintain problem behavior. Successful behavioral intervention to decrease severe behavior problems in individuals with intellectual disability (ID) depends on our ability to accurately identify why a given individual engages in a specific behavior. The Functional Assessment for Multiple Causality (FACT), Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST), and Questions about Behavioral Function (QABF) are three commonly used third-party behavior rating instruments designed to evaluate the function of target behaviors, which have previously been shown to have acceptable levels of inter-rater reliability. This study examined whether inter-rater agreement was impacted by types of target behavior problems (Self-injurious Behavior, Stereotyped Behavior, and Aggressive/Destructive Behavior), frequency or severity of the target behavior, the assessment instrument, and how these factors interact. The sample consisted of 115 adults with ID with one or more problem behaviors. Each participant was assessed with all three instruments by two raters. Two separate univariate General Linear Model analyses were used to determine what contributes to the discrepancy in rater scores on each subscale. The predictors included the assessment instrument, type of target behavior, and either frequency or severity of the target behavior (separate models) along with all 2-way interactions. We found that severity of behavior is a significant predictor and that while frequency of behavior is not an individual predictor, it does interact with type of behavior to predict rater discrepancy scores.



Functional assessment, Frequency, Inter-rater agreement, Severity, Problem behavior