Measuring the restrictiveness of living environments for children and youth: Reconceptualizing restriction

Mary E. Rauktis, Jonathan C. Huefner, Kirk O'Brien, Peter J. Pecora, Ann Doucette, Ronald W. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The Restrictiveness of Living Environment Scale has long been the primary way to conceptualize the "restrictiveness" of a child's living situation. However, changes in systems of care and other factors have created a need to revisit how restrictiveness is conceptualized and measured. A measure was created to assess an environment's level of restrictiveness and form the basis for empirically created general environment types. The measure was refined using expert review, cognitive interviewing, and pilot testing. Over 1,000 child organizations and older youth were invited to participate, with responses completed for 446 youth. The sample was reduced to 313 because of a large response from one setting. Cluster analysis produced a four-cluster solution suggesting low, moderate, elevated, and high restrictiveness for a simplified general environment typology. The data also suggest overlap among clusters and that settings with the same names can vary. Limitations are described, and plans for how the measure will be further developed are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental restrictiveness
  • Least restrictive alternative
  • Living environment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring the restrictiveness of living environments for children and youth: Reconceptualizing restriction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this